Thursday, March 5, 2015

Steampunk Granny's Review of 47 Ronin

My post was originally featured on Biff Bam Pop, but it's been on cable again and I wanted to re-share my review. Enjoy!
I swear if my grandsons could move to Japan, they would…but until they can, they watch and read everything Japanese. When 47 Ronin opened on Christmas Day, guess who was dragged to the movies with them?

47 Ronin premiered in 2013 and is a fictional account of the forty-seven Ronin, a real life group of samurai in 18th century Japan. This fantasy action film, which was produced by Universal Studios, was directed by Carl Erik Rinsch and stars Mr. Matrix himself, Keanu Reeves along with Hiroyuki Sanada, Ko Shibasaki, Tadanobu Asano, Min Tanaka, and Rinko Kikuchi as the witch. Did I like the film?
Kai (Keanu Reeves) the offspring of a British sailor and a Japanese peasant woman was left in the swamps to die; half breeds, especially illegitimate ones, being frowned on during that time period. He’s found and reared by some brutal mystical creatures resembling lizards.

Years later, the young Kai is taken in as a servant by the kindly Lord Asano (Min Tanaka) and his young daughter, Mika (Ko Shibasaki). Although Mika loves Kai, the samurai warriors that serve Lord Asano shun the half breed. The loudest objector to Kai’s presence on Lord Asano’s land is Oishi (Hiroyuki Sanada), the leader of Asano’s samurai.
The Reception
When news of an envoy of the Emperor is coming to Lord Asano’s home, a reception is arranged to honor Shogun Tsunayoshi (Cary-hiroyuki Tagawa). One of the guests invited is the evil Lord Kira (Tadanobu Asano) and his witch Mizuki (Rinko Kikuchi). Lord Kira wants Lord Asano’s land and his daughter as a bride and he will do everything in his power to obtain both.

With the aid of Mizuki, Lord Kira arranges a series of misfortunes to occur which not only has Kai sold into slavery, but shames Lord Asano in front of the Shogun. Lord Asano is forced to commit seppuku (formal suicide) and Mika obliged to marry Lord Kira at the end of the year. Lord Asano’s death leaves his samurai without a leader, and thus, they are now, Ronin. I guess it’s like a demotion, because the ex-samurai are chased out of town. Lord Asano’s lands are in ruins and his people are mistreated by the soldiers of Lord Kira. Oishi is thrown into a pit for one year. When he is released, Kira thinks Oishi is a broken man.
This lady would be perfect in a Disney movie as a wicked witch; quite nasty. She’s a shape shifter extraordinaire, be it spider or dragon.

She spends her time spying for Lord Kira or terrifying poor Mika who is held captive until the arrival of her wedding day.
Honor is very important to the Japanese and especially to the samurai, who lived their daily lives under a strict code of loyalty, sacrifice, persistence and honor. Oishi is honor bound to restore the good name of his dead Lord. His first act after he’s released from the pit is to find Kai before searching for the other samurai. Kai leads the samurai to the dangerous swamps and to the mystical creatures that saved him when he was abandoned as a baby. These creatures don’t care too much for mankind, but at Kai’s insistence, they give the much needed weapons to the samurai for their battle against Lord Kira.

I absolutely loved this movie. If you get a chance to watch it, please do. The acting was superb, the clothing and scenery a treat to the eyes and, although Keanu Reeves is the star, the story was really about Oishi and the other samurai. Mizuki is stunning as the evil witch/dragon. The film is a tribute to the samurai code of honor. 

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