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Review of "47 RONIN"
By Jayne Waterford
Copyrighted © Jayne Waterford, 2014. Written 14th January 2014 First Published 14th January 2014 Revised 14th January 2014 Revised 24th April 2014
REVIEW: "47 RONIN" by Jayne Waterford

Carl Rinsch's "47 RONIN" (2013) is a gorgeous spectacle told with gravity and designed for a Western palate. It's up there with: Chao-Bin Su's "REIGN OF ASSASSINS" (2010), Yimou Zhang's "HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS" (2004) and Ang Lee's "CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON" (2000) for costuming, pace and wire work and Edward Zwick's "THE LAST SAMURAI" (2003) for weighty drama in his bid to convey honour and values he considered to be important to his 17 year old son. But don't worry. 47 Ronin is a national Japanese epic that is traditionally retold with creative embellishments. Free-wheeling embellishments are themselves a tradition called Chushingura and the film is sumptuous.

Rinsch is well within tradition to skew the telling of a Japanese story away from demure and mute Japanese mannerisms and use a script that expounds on character's emotional states. In Japan, cinema is after all an American invention. Some of the greatest Japanese epics that I in the West am aware of were made by Akira Kurosawa, a director very influenced by John Ford. He would have loved James Mangold's "3:10 TO YUMA" (2007). Kabuki is the definitive Japanese art form, if you're a kabuki actor.

At the core of this story is beauty, most purely in the forms of two dazzling women. Kai's true love, Mika (Ko Shibasaki) and the much more interesting witch (Rinko Kikuchi). Who wouldn't vow on a pile of corpses to be bound to her eternally?

Attendant upon beauty is aesthetic and a be-silked Japanese identity as opposed to Chinese. This culture is lovely. Handmaids float behind Mika like clouds with delightful plaits strung to the sky. It is also very austere. Fabric seems more blocked. Darkness is darker as if people take their cue from wooden buildings that are solid, eternal. Coats are worn a bit like capes and asymmetric hairstyles probably have their influences in the history of Shogun's court.

I'd go so far as to suggest that the hair of our heroines underlies their emotional states. In one telling scene, the wedding scene, the mistress, Witch (Rinko Kikuchi)'s hair piles asymmetrically, built on a sure angel while Mika (Ko Shibasaki)'s is neatly symmetrical as she sits in white, as if for a funeral.

The pirate connection: "47 RONIN" shares more with "THE PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN" franchise (2003-2016) than the island of ships we first saw in Gore Verbinski's "THE PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD'S END" (2007). They share a costume

designer, the great Penny Rose. Could it be a coincidence that our story of a half breed bastard who is a, "good man," is set at the time of these galleons? Or is it more Hollywood story-telling technique chiming in?

Now when I say sumptuous, not sumptuous after the manner of the amount of fabric used in the costumes of Francis Ford Coppola's "DRACULA" (1992). Here, fabric is used for character. When we see the witch sitting atop a puddle of spilt silk we know she is physically more than a woman.

And then we come to the elements of the 47 Ronin that are true in most tellings of the story. The many samurai who avenged the death of their lord, "daimyo, Asano Takumi-no-Kami Naganori [here played by Min Tanaka - ed.], the young daimyo of the Ako Domain (a small fiefdom in western Honshu)," (Wikipedia) led by Oishi (Hiroyuki Sanada). There is no essential outsider before Rinsch. And Asano is not young.

There are many light and humorous elements in this film that made the whole audience burst out laughing. We recognise Sanada-san in the first instance by the way he cuts something with his katana. Very Ujio. And guards disappear backwards over walls or are effortlessly slaughtered and replaced.

But most enjoyable of all was the character of Kai (Keanu Reeves), the half-breed who has known nothing but his love of Mika and being an outsider. Like all of the great cinematic treats before it, Carl Rinsch's "47 RONIN" (2013) is a love story.

It is viewed best if viewed from a seat where the screen fills your 3D glasses edge to edge. 10/10

Copyrighted ©: Jayne Waterford, 2014.


Carl Rinsch's "47 RONIN" (2013)
SEIZE ETERNITY
Director Carl Rinsch
Producers Pamela Abdy, Eric McLeod
Stars Keanu Reeves, Hiroyuki Sanada, Kou Shibasaki, Tadanobu Asano and Rinko Kikuchi
Release Date 16th January 2014
Category Epic 3D Action-Adventure
Running Time 118 minutes (1 hour, 58 minutes)
Rating M
Origin USA and JAPAN
Awards
Coda No
www.47ronin.com.au
47roninmovie.com
Distributor UNIVERSAL PICTURES INTERNATIONAL AUSTRALASIA
Official Blurb "From ancient Japan’s most enduring tale, the epic 3D fantasy-adventure "47 RONIN" is born. Keanu Reeves leads the cast as Kai, an outcast who joins Oishi (Hiroyuki Sanada), the leader of the "47
RONIN". Together they seek vengeance upon the treacherous overlord who killed their master and banished their kind. To restore honour to their homeland, the warriors embark upon a quest that challenges them with a series of trials that would destroy ordinary warriors. "47 RONIN" is helmed by visionary director Carl Erik Rinsch (The Gift). Inspired by styles as diverse as Miyazaki and Hokusai, Rinsch will bring to life the stunning landscapes and enormous battles that will display the timeless Ronin story to global audiences in a way that’s never been seen before.

Keanu Reeves makes an explosive return to action-adventure in 47 Ronin. After a treacherous warlord kills their master and banishes their kind, 47 leaderless samurai vow to seek vengeance and restore honor to their people. Driven from their homes and dispersed across the land, this band of Ronin must seek the help of Kai (Reeves)—a half-breed they once rejected—as they fight their way across a savage world of mythic beasts, shape-shifting witchcraft and wondrous terrors.

As this exiled, enslaved outcast becomes their most deadly weapon, he will transform into the hero who inspires this band of outnumbered rebels to seize eternity.

Helmed by director Carl Rinsch (The Gift), 47 Ronin is produced by Pamela Abdy (Identity Thief, upcoming Endless Love) and Eric McLeod (Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Austin Powers series)." - UNIVERSAL PICTURES INTERNATIONAL AUSTRALASIA PR

1st March 2011 Universal Pictures Australasia: ""47 RONIN"" UNIVERSAL PICTURES ANNOUNCES START OF PRINCIPAL PHOTOGRAPHY ON "47 RONIN", THE NEW EPIC 3D FANTASY-ADVENTURE STARRING KEANU REEVES

KEANU REEVES leads an all-star international cast in the action-adventure "47 RONIN". After a treacherous warlord kills their master and banishes their kind, 47 leaderless samurai vow to seek vengeance and restore honor to their people. Driven from their homes and dispersed across the land, this band of Ronin must seek the help of Kai (Reeves)—a half-breed they once rejected—as they fight their way across a savage world of mythic beasts, shape-shifting witchcraft and wondrous terrors.
Credit: Universal Pictures
© Universal Pictures
The local fight organisation CEO who pouts and behaves more like a harlot than a boss.
RICK GENEST as the Foreman at Dutch Island in the action-adventure "47 RONIN".
Credit: Universal Pictures
© Universal Pictures
KO SHIBASAKI as Mika in the action-adventure "47 RONIN". After a treacherous warlord kills their master and banishes their kind, 47 leaderless samurai vow to seek vengeance and restore honor to their people. Driven from their homes and dispersed across the land, this band of Ronin must seek the help of Kai (Keanu Reeves)—a half-breed they once rejected—as they fight their way across a savage world of mythic beasts, shape-shifting witchcraft and wondrous terrors.
Credit: Universal Pictures
© Universal Pictures
RINKO KIKUCHI as the Witch in the action-adventure "47 RONIN". After a treacherous warlord kills their master and banishes their kind, 47 leaderless samurai vow to seek vengeance and restore honor to their people. Driven from their homes and dispersed across the land, this band of Ronin must seek the help of Kai (Keanu Reeves)—a half-breed they once rejected—as they fight their way across a savage world of mythic beasts, shape-shifting witchcraft and wondrous terrors.
Credit: Universal Pictures
© Universal Pictures
(L to R) Horibe (SHU NAKAJIMA), Oishi (HIROYUKI SANADA) and Basho (TAKATO YONEMOTO) kneel with their men in the action-adventure "47 RONIN". After a treacherous warlord kills their master and banishes their kind, 47 leaderless samurai vow to seek vengeance and restore honor to their people. Driven from their homes and dispersed across the land, this band of Ronin must seek the help of Kai (Keanu Reeves)—a half-breed they once rejected—as they fight their way across a savage world of mythic beasts, shape-shifting witchcraft and wondrous terrors.
Credit: Frank Connor
© Universal Pictures
(L to R) The Shogun’s Adjutant (TANROH ISHIDA), Shogun Tsunayoshi (CARY-HIROYUKI TAGAWA) and Lord Kira (TADANOBU ASANO) approach Mika (KO SHIBASAKI) in the action-adventure "47 RONIN".
Credit: Universal Pictures
© Universal Pictures
Kai (KEANU REEVES) is comforted by Mika (KO SHIBASAKI) in the action-adventure "47 RONIN".
Credit: Frank Connor
© Universal Pictures