Tuesday, November 11, 2014


Keanu Reeves, Hiroyuki Sanada,
Ko Shibasaki, Cary Hiroyuki Tagawa,
Rinko Kikuchi

"Seize Eternity"

After my sister had surgery, she couldn't move much so we had movie marathons. Perfect time to catch up on my long list of accumulated movies to watch.

First off is this fictional tale about a 18th century historical event in Japan in which a group of "ronin" (master-less samurai) avenged the honor of their dead Lord/Master. It is strictly forbidden for a ronin to seek revenge. But this group believed that their master was set up after he was accused of assaulting a court official. They planned and waited for one year before they set off to kill the one they hold accountable for the 'injustice'.

The event itself is still widely revered in modern day Japan as annually on the 14th of December, people hold a festival at the Sengakuji temple to commemorate it.

"47 Ronin" is clearly a fictional tale as it has a Caucasian dude named Kai (Keanu Reeves) known as the 'half-breed' who joins the 47 leaderless samurai. There is also a witchcraft element to the film which sets a fantasy tone amidst the beautiful backdrop of a small mountainous district. All of the characters, except of course for Reeves are portrayed by Japanese actors who all just happen to speak English, fluently. 

Yet it is also a vividly graphic reenactment of the events that led to the revenge. Good sword play skills are displayed in the cleverly choreographed fight scenes. The costume design from the wardrobe of the samurais to the kimono worn as well as the manner of styling their hair are all authentic and reminiscent of a long gone era in Japan's rich cultural history.

Hiroyuki Sanada as Oishi, the leader of the Ronin was spot on. He has this certain quality to him which makes him perfect to be cast as a samurai. Although I have seen him in other movies in 'normal' roles and he excels in every performance. 

I, for one liked the film despite the fantasy element and the general cliches, such as having one white dude ostracized by an entire group in the beginning of the movie; then eventually proving himself to be a much welcomed part of the group. I know this concept is quite predictable in these sort of films. Hint: Tom Cruise in "The Last Samurai".

Yet I believe the triumph of good vs evil and the strong need for revenge against an injustice always make good plot lines to bank on. Never mind that the 'act of vengeance' is highly prohibited in the bushido (samurai code of honor), the 47 Ronin knew the ultimate consequence for their behavior would be to commit ritual suicide which is known as seppuku. They accepted their fate with pride, honor and dignity.

So regardless of the historical inaccuracy, "47 Ronin" was one entertainingly good Samurai movie, imho!

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