47 Ronin (2013 film)
|Directed by||Carl Rinsch|
|Produced by||Pamela Abdy
|Screenplay by||Chris Morgan
|Story by||Chris Morgan
|Music by||Ilan Eshkeri|
|Editing by||Craig Wood|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Running time||118 minutes|
|Box office||$145,062,475 |
47 Ronin is a 2013 American fantasy action film depicting a fictional account of the forty-seven Ronin, a real-life group of Ronin (master-less samurai) in 18th-century Japan who avenged the murder of their master (stories, plays and other dramatic performances of the 47 Ronin story are commonly referred to as Chūshingura in Japan). Produced by Universal Studios, the film is directed by Carl Rinsch and stars Keanu Reeves and Hiroyuki Sanada. Filming started in Budapest in March 2011; it moved to Shepperton Studios in London and was concluded in Japan.
In feudal Japan, Kai is a half-Japanese, half-British outcast who lives in the village of Ako, ruled by the benevolent Lord Asano Naganori, who once found a young Kai lost in the woods and accepted him into his domain. Despite being rejected by the samurai led by Oishi due to his ancestry, Kai becomes a skilled warrior and falls in love with Asano's daughter, Mika.
Ahead of the arrival of Shogun Tokugawa Tsunayoshi, Ako is visited by his master of ceremonies, Lord Kira, who becomes attracted to Mika. He arranges a fight between his best soldier, the Lovecraftian Samurai, and one of Oishi's men, Yasuno, who is later found under the spell of Kira's adviser, the witch Mizuki. Kai takes his place and fights the Lovecraftian Samurai, but is defeated and humiliated. Later that night, Mizuki bewitches Asano into believing Kira is raping Mika, causing Asano to attack an unarmed Kira, an offense punishable by death. The Shogun allows Asano to die honorably by committing seppuku, and brands Oishi and his men Ronin. Kira demands to marry Mika, but the Shogun grants her one year to mourn the death of her father, and forbids the Ronin from seeking revenge. To ensure this, Kira traps Oishi in a well in an attempt to break his spirit.
Nearly a year later, Oishi is released by Lord Kira's men. He reunites with his family and asks his son Chikara to reunite the Ronin, including Kai, who had been sold into slavery, to avenge Asano and save Mika. After the local blacksmiths deny the Ronin help out of loyalty to Kira, Kai leads them to the Tengu Forest, a mystical place he once escaped from as a child. Kai instructs Oishi to never draw his sword while in the Tengu temple and continues alone to another room. While Kai fights the Tengu Master, Oishi watches his men fighting the Tengu and dying. Oishi follows Kai's advice to never draw his sword and the illusion disappears; having earned the respect of the Tengu Master, the Ronin are given swords. Armed with their new weapons, the Ronin plan to attack Kira on his pilgrimage to prayer for his wedding. Instead, the group is ambushed by Kira's forces, led by Mizuki and the Lovecraftian Samurai. Several of the Ronin are killed, and Mizuki, believing to have slaughtered them all, takes Oishi's sword and presents it to Lord Kira as a trophy. Mizuki later taunts Mika with her death and attempts to manipulate Mika into killing herself.
Kai and Oishi, having survived the attack, reunite the remaining survivors to fulfill their mission. With help of a band of traveling performers, Kai and Oishi infiltrate Kira and Mika's wedding, giving Mika an opportunity to flee. Meanwhile, the Ronin climb the walls and fight Kira's men, including the Lovecraftian Samurai, who is killed by a bomb. Kai and Mika attempt to escape together, but are attacked by Mizuki, who takes the form of a giant serpent, but is slain by Kai. Meanwhile, Oishi and Kira fight, and Oishi finally beheads Kira, avenging his lord.
The 47 Ronin are sentenced to death for seeking vengeance against the Shogun's orders. Again, the Shogun allows them commit seppuku to preserve their honor. Impressed by their bravery, the Shogun allows Chikara to live in order to preserve Oishi's bloodline. After the deaths of the Ronin, Mika finds a letter written by Kai, in which he promises to find her once she crosses into the "other world". A scroll with the blood of the 47 Ronin is preserved as a symbol of their unwavering honor, strength and dedication to justice.
- Keanu Reeves as Kai, a former slave who joins the Ronin. Reeves' character is half-Japanese and half-British; the character was created for the film.
- Hiroyuki Sanada as Oishi, the leader of the Rōnin.
- Kou Shibasaki as Mika, Lord Asano's daughter and Kai's love interest.
- Tadanobu Asano as Lord Kira, Lord Asano's rival daimyo and the one responsible for arranging the killing of the Rōnin's master.
- Min Tanaka as Lord Asano, the former master of the Rōnin.
- Jin Akanishi as Chikara, Oishi's son.
- Masayoshi Haneda as Yasuno
- Hiroshi Sogabe as Hazama
- Neil Fingleton as Lovecraftian Samurai, an enormous samurai who serves Lord Kira.
- Takato Yonemoto as Basho
- Hiroshi Yamada as Hara
- Shu Nakajima as Horibe
- Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa as Shogun Tsunayoshi
- Rinko Kikuchi as Mizuki, an odd-eyed witch who serves Lord Kira
- Yorick van Wageningen as Kapitan
- Rick Genest as Savage
47 Ronin is the directorial debut of Carl Rinsch based on a screenplay by The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift screenwriter Chris Morgan and The Wings of the Dove screenwriter Hossein Amini. While the film is based on the true story of an actual group of forty-seven ronin, it is a fantastical take, being set "in a world of witches and giants." The studio Universal Pictures first announced the project in December 2008 with actor Keanu Reeves attached to star. Variety reported, "The film will tell a stylized version of the story, mixing fantasy elements of the sort seen in The Lord of the Rings pics, with gritty battle scenes akin to those in films such as Gladiator." Universal planned to produce the film in 2009 after finding a director, and in November of that year, the studio entered talks with Rinsch to direct the film. For Rinsch, who has filmed "visual and stylish" blurbs for brands, the film is his feature film debut.
In December 2010, the studio announced that the film would be produced and released in 3D. Between March and April 2011, five Japanese actors were cast alongside Reeves: Hiroyuki Sanada, Tadanobu Asano, Rinko Kikuchi, Kou Shibasaki, and Jin Akanishi. According to Variety, Universal chose them to make the story more authentic instead of picking actors that would be recognizable in the United States. Universal is providing Rinsch with a production budget of $170 million despite his lack of feature film experience, which The Hollywood Reporter considered to be a "large-scale, downright risky" move. Filming began on March 14, 2011 in Budapest. Origo Film Group contributed to the movie. Production moved to Shepperton Studios in the United Kingdom; additional filming in Japan was also planned. Reeves said that scenes are filmed first in the Japanese language to familiarize the cast, and the scenes are filmed again in the English language. The actors' costumes were designed by Penny Rose, who said, "We decided to base it on the culture and what the shapes should be—i.e., everyone's in a kimono—but we've thrown a kind of fashion twist at it. And we've made it full of color, which is quite unusual for me."
Reshoots were done in London during late August 2012, delayed by the Olympics and the filming of Reeves' directorial debut, Man of Tai Chi. In addition, the studio added a love scene, close-ups, and individual lines to boost Reeves' presence.
47 Ronin was originally scheduled to be released on November 21, 2012, then moved to February 8, 2013, citing the need for work on the 3D visual effects. It was later postponed to December 25, 2013, to account for the reshoots and post-production.
The film opened initially in Japan in the first week of December 2013, where it grossed an estimated US$1.3 million, opening third behind the debut week of Lupin the 3rd vs. Detective Conan: The Movie and the third week of the Studio Ghibli film Kaguya-hime no Monogatari (The Tale of Princess Kaguya). Variety called the poor Japanese debut "troubling", considering the well known local cast and the fact that the film is loosely based on a famous Japanese tale. The evening tabloid newspaper Nikkan Gendai stated that its dismal performance over 753 screens demonstrated "unheard of numbers" likely a result of aversion to a Hollywood rendition of Chushingura.
In the United States, the film grossed US$20.6 million in its first five days of release, opening in ninth place at the box office. It also grossed US$2.3 million for a fifth place debut in the United Kingdom.
47 Ronin has been almost universally panned by critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a 12% rating, with an average score of 4.1/10, based on 66 reviews; the consensus states: "47 Ronin is a surprisingly dull fantasy adventure, one that leaves its talented international cast stranded within one dimensional roles." The film has a score of 29 (out of 100) on Metacritic, based on 21 critics.
Kirsten Acuna of Business Insider believes that the film flopped for three reasons. First, it opened in December when there is over-saturation of films for the Christmas holiday. Second, the film was “too long in the vault” undergoing editing and people forgot about it. Third, audiences have not been drawn to Keanu Reeves since the first Matrix film more than 10 years ago.
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