47 Ronin Review

47 Ronin is a 2013 fantasy adaptation of the true story of 47 Ronin, samurai without a lord, taking revenge for the death of their lord. The original legend has been described as Japan's "national legend" by some authors, but does this American adaptation disappoint? 47 Ronin is set in 18th century Japan and stars Keanu Reeves as Kai, a "half-breed" (half Japanese and half English), who is treated as a second class citizen. 

Directed by: Carl Rinsch
Genre: Action, Fantasy, Action Adventure,
Release Date: December 25, 2013
Running Time: 118 minutes
MMPA rating: PG-13

The Good: Hiroyuki Sanada gives the best performance, Keanu Reeves is likable in his role, Well choreographed action scenes, Good soundtrack,

The Bad: Weak supporting cast and characters, Dull first third,

Plot: 7.5/10- 47 Ronin's plot is simple. There are not a lot of twists and turns, but it is an effective revenge story. It adds a lot of fantasy elements to the original story, which worked for the most part. The film's pacing can be a little slow and dull at times, especially if you have no interest in the Japanese setting. If you have an interest in Japanese culture, history, or samurai, like myself, the story will appeal to you much more.
Characterization: 3.2/10- Aside from the two main characters Kai (Reeves) and Oishi (Sananda), there is little to no development for the cast of characters. While I am no expert, the creators did seem to get the honor aspect of the film right with Reeves' character bowing and showing respect to the other characters due to his low status as a half-breed. Also, while Kai may appear to be the main character of the movie from the trailer, Oishi is the main protagonist in actuality, which is certainly for the best. He receives the most screentime, and he plays a larger role in the overall plot.

Action: 7.8/10- While the action is often short and sporadic at first, towards the last third, the action picks up with several well choreographed samurai sword sword fights.
Oishi, the true protagonist.
Acting: 5.0/10- While Reeves has top billing, Hiroyuki Sanada (The Wolverine, Helix) is the true star of the film having most of the dialogue and screentime, which is good because he is also the best actor of the cast. Reeves is generally likable in his role. As for the rest of the cast, the acting ranges from mediocre to bad. Thankfully however, the principal cast is Japanese and not whitewashed. Unfortunately, many of the performances from the Japanese cast trying to speak in English can be terrible, which is likely due to the language barrier.
Special effects: 6.5/10- While never mind blowing or impressive, the special effects for the fantasy creatures get the job done well enough. During the first third, some of the sets looked a little cheap and the same goes for the costumes, although it did give the movie a classic feel to a degree.

Soundtrack: 8.1/10- Ilan Eshkeri's score is surprisingly good in the film. Most of the tracks have a distinctly Asian feel that fits the tone and setting of the film well.

Humor: 5.0/10- With the exception of a few jokes, 47 Ronin is mostly humorless.

Entertainment Value: 7.2/10- Due to my interest in the Japanese legend and samurai in general, I enjoyed the movie more than most, although my brother and fellow critic, Jacob, enjoyed the movie as well.

Overall: 6.1/10- Despite some notable flaws, 47 Ronin is an entertaining Japanese fantasy tale of revenge that is supported by its two main characters and the film's setting.

Closing comments: If you have no interest in samurai movies or Japanese history, I would lower my overall rating to around a six.

Recommended for: Samurai fans, Japanese fans,

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Why does this guy get his own poster? He is in the movie like one minute!
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