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December 27th, 2013

Movie Review - 47 Ronin

47 Ronin



Starring: Keanu Reeves, Hiroyuki Sanada, Kô Shibasaki, Tadanobu Asano, Rinko Kikuchi, Min Tanaka, Jin Akanishi, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Masayoshi Haneda, Hiroshi Sogabe, Takato Yonemoto, Hiroshi Yamada, Shū Nakajima, Togo Igawa, and more.


Directed by: Carl Rinsch Screenplay by: Chris Morgan and Hossein Amini Screen Story by: Chris Morgan and Walter Hamada Cinematography by: John Mathieson Music by: Ilan Eshkeri


Premise: After being tricked into disgracing himself, Lord Asano of Ako must commit ritual suicide. He pleads with his second in command not to take immediate revenge on the underhanded Lord Kira, as this would doom all in Ako to death. Instead, he asks that they lay down their weapons and became ronin, masterless samurai, and await a better time to exact their revenge and regain Asano's honor. (Rated PG-13)


Review:


1) Acting - Total Thumbs Up: There were a lot of familiar and talented faces in this film. Keanu Reeves plays a half-breed believed to have been trained by Tengu (a type of Japanese demon), and who escaped his masters while still a boy. Keanu did a good job appearing subservient and also grateful to Lord Asano despite his outcast status. Hiroyuki Sanada showed great range as Ōishi, Lord Asano's second in command and the one carrying the weight of regaining his dead lord's honor. Rinko Kikuchi was a lot of fun as Kira's witch.


2) Special Effects - Total Thumbs Up: The special effects of the film were awesome. I loved the change sequences of the witch, especially the ones where they integrated the fluid floating cloth into her kimono. The demon the hunting party is pursuing at the beginning of the film also looked great. The pulling of Kira's greed/poison from his body to create a white spider will give you the creeps it looks so good. But the one effect I truly loved was that used for the Tengu Lord. The detail on his avian face and eyes was amazing.


3) Story/Plot - Thumbs Up: The legend of the 47 Ronin, as was mentioned in the film, is a tale considered to show all the best attributes of those following the teachings of 'bushido', the way of the warrior. While this rendition of the tale has added elements not present in thelegend, I was quite surprised and pleased that they kept all the major points the same, especially the end.


In this version of Japan, magic and the supernatural are real. There's also the added characters of Kai, the half-breed/outcast, and Asano's daughter, Mika. However, by the addition of the two characters, even more Japanese culture was imparted in the tale, so it worked out.


There were also some odd changes with regards to "kabuki" and some of the women's dress and styles hair. It's hard to say if these were done in order to point out it was an alternate Japan or something else. For most viewers of the film, however, I doubt it will make much difference.


The one spot that seemed truly odd was how they rendered the Dutch slavers section of the film. Nothing in that sequence was a true portrayal, but it did make for some great fight scenes.


4) Locations/Cinematography - Total Thumbs Up: Filmed in the UK and Budapest, there was a nice diversity of locations both real and imagined. The bitter and cold look of Kira's realm, the serene, green beauty of Ako, and many lovely shots of mountains and moon filled nights, did much to set the mood in each of their scenes.


5) Costuming/Makeup - Thumbs Up: I went back and forth on my opinions in this area. I loved the way the tattooed Dutch slaver came out -- he was a masterful work of art and looked fantastic. Most of the male Japanese costumes were pretty accurate, except for possibly the Shogun's and Kira's. Yet pretty much everything worn by Mika, except when shown as a young girl, did not conform to normal medieval Japanese wear. Even the witch's costume was more accurate than the majority of Mika's ensembles. The hairstyles of the women too tended to extremes and were odd. The reasoning for the variation wasn't made clear.


Conclusion: "47 Ronin" is an enjoyable, 'spiced up' retelling of the famous Japanese legend. Some liberties were taken with costumes and hairstyles, but the spirit of the legend is all there. The attack on Kira's castle was made of perfection.


Rating: 4 out 5 (Hubby's Rating: Would Pay Full Price to See Again)


Shameless PLUG: If you go see and enjoy this film, you might also like to take a look at my novel In the Service of Samurai. The book is set in a fictional Japan were the supernatural exists. And mine has undead samurai and ninja! So go take a look. :)  

Gloria Oliver
Unveiling the Fantastic
www.gloriaoliver.com

Novels


JEWEL OF THE GODS

(2015) Fantasy

The King is Dead! Long Live the Undead King!


Excerpt:
"What are you implying?"

The magister glided forward and scrunched down beside him.

"That in order to bathe, you must first actually get into the bath."





INNER DEMONS

(2014) Urban Fantasy

It took everything from her, except revenge!


Excerpt:
The muscles in my right arm jerked from tension as I tried to make it move and it resisted. A shrill scream inside my head insisted I didn't want to do this. That if I did, there'd be no way to take it back. "I...I'm afraid."



THE PRICE OF MERCY

(2011) Young Adult – Fantasy

Which is worse…the monster without or within?


Excerpt:

Home—family—the two things he would never have, the two things forever denied him…because of her.

Anger welled inside him, the heat of it suffusing him to the core, gurgling with seething emotions the total opposite of the coolness splashing down from the fountain nearby. Before he realized what he was doing, Jarrin stepped inside the gazebo.




CROSS-EYED DRAGON TROUBLES
(2007) Young Adult – Fantasy
“Harry Potter meets Dragon Riders of Pern”

Excerpt:

“Do you need any help?” she asked. “Just tell me what you want me to do. If you prefer, I’m sure I can round up at least a few people to come over and give you a hand.”

Kel slowly shook his head. “It’s all right. Thanks anyway.” His voice lowered to where she almost couldn’t hear it. “This is all part of my punishment.’

She frowned, not understanding what he meant. “Punishment?”

Kel cocked his head in Clarence’s direction. In a flash, she understood. None of this was an accident. Clarence had landed there deliberately, hoping to make Kel pay for all he went through in the past month. She shook her head, not wanting to believe this, but what the dragon said next took any doubts right out of her head.



WILLING SACRIFICE
(2008) Young Adult – Fantasy
“To save the world she must DIE! Or must she?”

Excerpt:

Panic and fear filled with utter helplessness made her dizzy. She knew what would be done with her, she knew what they planned. But there was nothing she could do to stop any of it.

Sharp gasps echoed in her ears as she felt the room’s cold air caress the Eye.

“You were right. She is the one.”



IN THE SERVICE OF SAMURAI
(2002) Adult/YA – Japanese Fantasy Adventure
“The Last Samurai meets Pirates of the Caribbean”

Excerpt:

Laying the blade on the floor before him, Toshi parted his kimono until his stomach lay exposed. He tucked his sleeves beneath his legs to hold him upright if he should falter. Ignoring Asano, he took up the blade. His shoulder flared with pain and he tried not to flinch, as he grabbed the blade with both hands. He turned the wakizashi until its sharp point was aimed at his belly, the residence of his soul.



VASSAL OF EL
(2004) Adult/YA – Fantasy Mystery
“He tried to forget his past, but his past wouldn’t forget him”

Excerpt:

Torren took a step back a sudden shudder racking through him. It was as if he’d never left, as if the boy he’d been would be coming back-though the one who’d loved this room and all these things was long, long dead. That boy died when he’d watched his father’s blood pour forth from his mouth, the end of a sword protruding from his abdomen. That boy died when he survived while everyone else lay dead.

Info, sample chapters, and free reads at www.gloriaoliver.com

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