47 Ronin (2013 film)
|Directed by||Carl Rinsch|
|Screenplay by||Chris Morgan|
|Story by||Chris Morgan|
|Produced by||Pamela Abdy|
|Edited by||Stuart Baird|
|Music by||Ilan Eshkeri|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Box office||$151.8 million|
47 Ronin is a 2013 American fantasy action film directed by Carl Rinsch in his directorial debut. Written by Chris Morgan and Hossein Amini from a story conceived by Morgan and Walter Hamada, the film is a work of Chūshingura ("The Treasury of Loyal Retainers"): a fictionalized account of the forty-seven rōnin, a real-life group of masterless samurai under daimyō Asano Naganori in 18th-century Japan who avenged Naganori's death by confronting his rival Kira Yoshinaka. Starring Keanu Reeves, Hiroyuki Sanada, Tadanobu Asano, Rinko Kikuchi and Ko Shibasaki, the film bears little resemblance to its historical basis compared to previous adaptations, and instead serves as a stylized interpretation set "in a world of witches and giants."
Produced by H2F Entertainment, Mid Atlantic Films, Moving Picture Company, Stuber Productions and Relativity Media, 47 Ronin premiered in Japan on December 6, 2013 before being released by Universal Pictures on December 25, 2013 in the United States in both 3D and 2D. While the action sequences and visuals were praised, 47 Ronin received generally negative reviews from critics and grossed just $151 million against its production budget of $175–225 million, making it a costly box office bomb that left Universal in the red for 2013. Variety magazine listed 47 Ronin as one of "Hollywood's biggest box office bombs of 2013". Despite its critical and commercial failure, a sequel was announced in 2020 to begin production in 2021.
In late medieval Japan, Kai is a half-Japanese, half-English outcast who lives in the Akō Domain, which is ruled by the benevolent Lord Asano Naganori. When Kai was young, Asano adopted him as a foundling. Asano's daughter Mika and Kai eventually fall in love, despite Kai being scorned by her father's samurai due to his mixed ancestry.
Before a planned visit from Shōgun Tokugawa Tsunayoshi, Asano is visited by the Shōgun's master of ceremonies, Lord Kira, who wants to take Akō for himself. Kira enlists the help of a shapeshifting kitsune, Mizuki, who sends a kirin to kill Asano in the forest of Ako during a hunting trip. Asano's samurai struggle in their battle with the monster, so Kai joins in riding an abandoned horse. As the monster charges him, Kai recovers a lost sword that he uses to slay it. He spots Mizuki watching the battle, disguised in her white fox form with different colored eyes. Later, during the Shōgun's visit, Kai notices a concubine with the same multi-colored eyes. He tries to warn Asano's principal counselor, Oishi, that a witch is present among Kira's household, but Oishi dismisses his warning.
Later, Kira arranges a duel for the entertainment of the Shōgun: Kira's best warrior, a golem, will battle a warrior of Asano's choosing. However, before the duel begins, Mizuki uses her magic to incapacitate Asano's combatant. Kai secretly dons his armor and fights in his stead, but his disguise is revealed, and the Shōgun orders him severely beaten as punishment. Later that night, Mizuki casts a spell to make Asano believe that Kira is raping Mika, causing him to attack the unarmed lord in his delirium. Asano is sentenced to death for attempting to murder an official of the Shōgun, and is compelled to perform seppuku to preserve his honor. The Shōgun then gives Kira both the Akō domain and Mika, although he grants Mika one year to mourn the death of her father before marrying Kira. The Shōgun also brands Oishi and his men ronin and forbids them from seeking vengeance for Asano's death. Kira has Oishi imprisoned in an outdoor pit, intending to break his spirit as he fears Oishi will seek retribution regardless.
Nearly a year later, Oishi is released by his captors as they believe that he is now harmless. During his captivity, Oishi deduces that Kira is guilty of treachery for using sorcery to frame Asano. Oishi reunites with his family and asks his son Chikara to aid him in reuniting the scattered ronin. They learn that Kai has been sold into slavery and Oishi rescues him from the fighting pits of the Dutch colony of Dejima. Kai leads them to the Tengu Forest, a mystical place where he escaped from as a child, so that they can obtain the special blades of the Tengu. Kai instructs Oishi to never draw his sword while inside the Tengu temple and continues alone to another room to face the Tengu Master, who once trained Kai in their fighting ways. While Kai confronts the Tengu Master in a battle of wills, Oishi watches an illusion of his men being slaughtered by the Tengu, during which he successfully fights the urge to draw his sword. With Kai and Oishi having proven themselves worthy, the ronin receive their blades.
The ronin plan to ambush Kira on his pilgrimage to a shrine where he seeks blessings for his wedding to Mika. However, the procession turns out to be a trap and the ronin are ambushed by Kira's retainers, led by Mizuki and her samurai guardian. Several of the ronin are killed, and Mizuki, thinking they are all dead, takes Oishi's sword and presents it to Kira as a trophy. Mizuki later taunts Mika with their deaths and attempts to manipulate her into committing suicide from despair.
Oishi and Kai (having actually survived the attack) rally the surviving ronin. They lead half of the ronin to infiltrate Kira's castle by disguising themselves as a band of traveling wedding performers. With Kira's men distracted during the performance, the remaining ronin scale the castle walls, and launch a coordinated attack against the castle guards. While Oishi fights Kira, Kai and Mika are attacked by Mizuki, who shape-shifts into a dragon. Kai uses his sword and draws on the mystical powers of the Tengu to finally kill her. After gutting him, Oishi emerges with Kira's severed head, and Kira's surviving retainers surrender.
After winning the battle, the ronin (including Kai) surrender themselves to the authorities of the bakufu and are sentenced to death as they explicitly violated the Shōgun's prohibition on avenging Asano. However, the Shōgun discovers that they followed the principles of bushido in their actions and restores their honor as samurai. Thus, instead of execution, the ronin are allowed to perform seppuku. They are also given the honor of burial with their master, Lord Asano. The Shōgun gives Akō back to Mika, and at the seppuku ceremony, he pardons Chikara so that he may serve Akō and preserve Oishi's bloodline for the country.
A closing caption informs the audience of the tradition of paying respect at the graves of the 47 Ronin which continues every year on December 14.
- Keanu Reeves as Kai, a half-Japanese, half-English outcast adopted by the household of Lord Asano who joins the Ronin. The character was created for the film.
- Daniel Barber as Teen Kai
- Hiroyuki Sanada as Oishi, the leader of the Rōnin.
- Tadanobu Asano as Lord Kira, Lord Asano's rival daimyō.
- Rinko Kikuchi as Mizuki the Witch, an odd-eyed sorceress who serves Lord Kira
- Ko Shibasaki as Mika, Lord Asano's daughter and Kai's love interest.
- Arisa Maekawa as Teen Mika
- Min Tanaka as Lord Asano, the former master of the Rōnin.
- Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa as Shōgun Tsunayoshi
- Jin Akanishi as Chikara, Oishi's son.
- Masayoshi Haneda as Yasuno
- Hiroshi Sogabe as Hazama
- Takato Yonemoto as Basho
- Hiroshi Yamada as Hara
- Yorick van Wageningen as Kapitan
- Masayuki Deai as Isogai
- Shu Nakajima as Horibe
- Togo Igawa as Tengu Lord
- Natsuki Kunimoto as Riku
- Gedde Watanabe as Troupe Leader (Kabuki Actor)
- Rick Genest as Foreman
- Ron Bottitta as Narrator
Universal Pictures first announced the film in December 2008, with Keanu Reeves attached to star. Variety then reported that "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 Carl Rinsch, who had filmed "visual and stylish" blurbs for brands, to direct the film.
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 in order to make the film's story more authentic rather than choose actors recognizable in the United States. Universal provided Rinsch with an initial production budget of $175 million despite his complete lack of feature film experience, which led to The Hollywood Reporter considering it to be a "large-scale, downright risky" move.
Principal photography began on March 14, 2011 in Budapest. Origo Film Group contributed to the film. Production moved to Shepperton Studios in the United Kingdom; additional filming in Japan was also planned. Reeves said that scenes were filmed first in the Japanese language in order to familiarize the cast, to which the scenes were 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, which were delayed by the Olympics and the filming of Reeves' directorial debut Man of Tai Chi. Universal pulled Rinsch from the project during the editing stages in late 2012, with Universal chairwoman Donna Langley taking over the editing process. In addition, the studio added a love scene, extra close-ups and individual lines of dialogue in order to try and boost Reeves' presence in the film, which "significantly added" to the budget of the film.
- Soundtrack list
- Oishi's Tale
- Kirin Hunt
- The Witch's Plan
- Assano Seppuku
- Dutch Island Fugue
- Reunited Ronin
- Shrine Ambush
- The Witch's Lie
- Kira's Wedding Quartet
- Palace Battle
- The Witch Dragon
- Return To Ako
- Shogun's Sentence
- Mika and Kai
- 47 Ronin
47 Ronin was originally scheduled to be released on November 21, 2012, but was moved to February 8, 2013 due to the need for work on the 3D visual effects. It was once again moved to a final release date of December 25, 2013 in order to account for the re-shoots and post-production.
An endorsement from the cast of Sengoku Basara was held until January 23, 2014, stating that Japanese fans who tweet with the hashtag #RONIN_BASARA could win Sengoku Basara 4 for the PS3 or a 47 Ronin poster signed by the film's cast.
The film opened in Japan in the first week of December 2013 where it opened to 753 screens nationwide and grossed an estimated US$1.3 million, opening third behind 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 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 were "unheard-of numbers" generated by the Japanese distaste for a Hollywood rendition of Chushingura which bore no resemblance to the renowned historical epic. 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. The film was a box office bomb, unable to recover its $175 million production budget.
47 Ronin received predominantly negative reviews from film critics, failing to impress Japanese audiences where studio expectations were high. At the film review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a 16% approval rating based on 87 reviews, with an average score of 4.16/10. The critical consensus states: "47 Ronin is a surprisingly dull fantasy adventure, one that leaves its talented international cast stranded within one dimensional roles." On Metacritic the film has a score of 28 out of 100 based on 21 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale.
Kirsten Acuña of Business Insider stated that the film flopped for three reasons: First, it opened in December when there is an over-saturation of films for the Christmas season; second, the film took "too long in the vault", having undergone editing and lost momentum; and third, audiences had not been drawn to Reeves as an actor since The Matrix Revolutions (which was released ten years prior) and that he had not yet reestablished his stardom prior to making John Wick.
|40th Saturn Awards||Best Costume||Penny Rose||Nominated|
|Best Production Design||Jan Roelfs||Nominated|
|IGN Awards||Best Fantasy Movie and Best 3D Movie||47 Ronin||Nominated|
|Golden Reel Award||Best Sound Editing - Music in a Feature Film||Andrew Silver (supervising music editor), Kenneth Karman (music editor), Julie Pearce (music editor) and Peter Oso Snell (music editor)||Nominated|
In August 2020, a sequel was announced to be in development. Ron Yuan will serve as director, with John Orlando, Share Stallings and Tim Kwok co-producing. The plot of the film will take place 300 years in the future and will be a mashup of genres including martial arts, horror, action, and science fiction cyber-punk. It was also announced that actress Aimee Garcia and former wrestler turned author AJ Mendez will write the sequel. The project will be produced by Universal 1440 Entertainment and distributed by Netflix. Production is scheduled to begin in the first quarter of 2021.
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- 47 Ronin DVD Release Date | NewDVDReleaseDates.com
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