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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

47 Ronin (2013)


It’s Keanu and a sword. What else is there to know?

In 18th century Japan, lowly half-blood Kai (Keanu Reeves) sits outside of his village looking in. Nobody respects him, nor cares for him. He’s just there to clean-up messes that are made and to get on with the rest of the society. However, one day, his master is murdered by a rival clan that is looking to expand his empire, which leaves Kai and fellow other samurai’s without much of anywhere to go. Some have died, some have hidden and some, well, mainly one, Kuranosuke Oishi (Hiroyuki Sanada), have been locked away from society a whole year, only to be brought back into a world that’s changed a lot since imprisonment. Oishi doesn’t like all of this change and realizes that it’s time to get the old gang back together, even if that means tracking down Kai and bringing him along. Well, it’s a smart move on Oishi’s part as Kai is now a very-skilled fighter, and also, just so happens to know who this evil clan-leader is, and where he’s located. Altogether, Kai, Oishi and the rest of the samurai’s set out for revenge, even if that revenge does mean death, regardless of whether it’s successful or not. Is it at all worth it? Well, the honor-system of the Ronin says so, so they must!

A samurai movie starring Keanu Reeves being released on Christmas: How do you think it’s going to do? Well, for starters, the movie will most likely bomb, bomb, bomb itself away into an oblivion, but that doesn’t get in the way of me at least enjoying a little B-movie fun, right?

You can trust Keanu to save the day. He knows "The Way of the Blade". Or something like that. I don't know!

You can trust Keanu to save the day. He knows “The Way of the Blade”. Or something like that. I don’t know!

Nope, not at all. But do you know what does? Something dull, lifeless and as Americanized as this. And yet, I didn’t hate it. Here’s why:

The problem that most seem to be having with this movie is that it doesn’t take itself as nutty as it should. Those people are absolutely right, but when the movie does actually show some signs of rare-craziness, it’s a whole bunch of fun and makes you wonder what the movie would be like if it was rated-R, rather than the soft, rather safe PG-13. There’s slivering CGI dragons; telepathic monks that have the ability to move at-a-mile-a-second; some huge, gargoyle-looking beast; and a seven-foot-tall-plus samurai warrior draped in all sorts of iron that knows a thing or two about a wrecking ball. Need I say more about this movie’s strangeness? I think not, and in those very rare moments the movie accepts what it is, it’s a whole bunch of fun, even if you don’t see it in 3-D.

That’s why when the movie does seem to take itself so damn seriously, and try to throw a historical-lesson on us, it feels like a wasted-opportunity of something really wacky and over-the-top. Rather than giving us a samurai movie in which Keanu is running all-over-the-place, saying dumb things, and hacking up every person he meets, we just see him show up, speak about “The Way of the Ronin” and then leave, ultimately letting others steal the spotlight from him. I’m not totally against this approach, considering that this is a Japanese-set movie about something that actually did happen with real-life, actual people of Japanese-decent, but it sucks so much fun out of what could have been. And by “what could have been”, I mean something that could have really been just all-out, balls-crazy in its own-self. But somehow, through someway, first-time director Carl Rinsch plays it relatively easy and never knowing whether he wants to be goofy, epic, action-y, loud, proud, philosophical, or all of the above.

It’s a strange mixture that never quite figures itself out. Maybe that’s why I didn’t hate it as much since there was always something odd the movie was doing next. I mean, for lord’s sake, I actually didn’t mind something as plain and simple as R.I.P.D., so you definitely know that this wasn’t going to be a total dread for me to watch. It just wasn’t, as expected, anything special or anything that I’ll remember ten, twenty, thirty, hell, even fifty years from now. However, do you know what I will remember? A Keanu Reeves-starring samurai flick that may have not been perfect, or even all that memorable, but I still had a painless time with. That so rarely often happens to me with a flick, and it happened to me here, so I have to say: I’m feeling alright, and that’s good enough for me.

As for all of you out there, if you want to see this, then I say go for it. Just don’t expect it to be like those old-school, kung-fu movies from the 70′s in which a bunch of people yelp, scream and chop each other’s heads off with a bunch of blood spurting out everywhere. Just expect something as odd and as weird that only Keanu Reeves would actually do, and there you go. You got your movie!

Yeah, they existed.

Yeah, they existed.

Speaking of Keanu, as much as he tries here, he feels terribly out-of-place. Which, yes, makes sense considering that he’s a half-breed of an British man and a Japanese woman. But I mean it more so in the way that he literally feels like he’s in another movie where everyone is placed into this ancient-war epic, and then, out of nowhere, Keanu seems to stumble upon the wrong set, mumbling whatever nonsense he has to say, and then walking off, letting whomever it was that was doing their job, continue to do so, without anymore interruptions at all. And, with this talented, Japanese-cast, it’s not all that bad; even if it is a bit strange that this is a historical-story set in Japan, featuring mainly all Japanese actors, and has them all speak English, with barely any subtitles involved. It’s strange to watch and in ways, very distracting considering you may be wondering what the hell it is that some people are saying at times, but the cast do what they can with what they’re given, especially Keanu. Poor, poor Keanu. The guy can kick ass like anybody’s favorite weirdo superhero, but here, he just feels odd. That’s more of the movie’s problem then his own, so I won’t be so mean to him. Because we all know what Keanu looks like when people get him all upset and bothered. Poor buddy.

Also, be on the lookout for a Gedde Watanabe sighting! Or, better yet, be on the lookout for a “Long Duk Dong” sighting!

Consensus: May not be the movie you’ll remember come next year, or any year for that matter, 47 Ronin is still passable enough as a piece of fluff entertainment that gives its core-audience enough sword-wielding fun and action, with some other neat treats in between, that’s fine for what it is, even if it could have been so, so, so much more had it played itself a little less seriously.

5 / 10 = Rental!!

Will the real Ronins please stand up? Yeah, I'm talking to you in the front!

Will the real Ronins please stand up? Yeah, I’m talking to yous in the front!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

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23 responses to “47 Ronin (2013)

  1. keith7198 December 30, 2013 at 3:52 am

    Good stuff bro. I just couldnt imagine this being very good. The trailers looked tempting but I couldn’t buy it.

  2. jjames36 December 30, 2013 at 4:07 am

    Mostly agreed. This is not a good movie, but the effects and actors do just enough to keep it passably watchable.

  3. Asrap December 30, 2013 at 5:35 am

    A lost opportunity. I agree with you, this could have been much better!

  4. Russel DDK December 30, 2013 at 6:18 am

    Yup, you’re spot on with your review. It had the potential to be so much better. Also the timing of release was way off the mark. I mean, did the studio execs not want this movie to succeed after so much being invested in it?

  5. Vitosal December 30, 2013 at 8:14 am

    Reeve’s acting seems to be getting worse and worse. I love the part where you say Keanua just stumbles on set, mumbles something and walks away,lol

    Did you see Man Of Tai Chi. Excellent film but Reeve’s was oh so terrible

  6. CouchKurisu December 30, 2013 at 8:16 am

    Yeah I definitely fell for the trap of the trailer, made it look so much more fun than you say it is. Will probably give this a miss. Your description of Keanu’s role made me laugh!

  7. teny December 30, 2013 at 10:17 am

    I have always felt that this is such a strange combination :)
    The hype is still huge!

  8. Niejan December 30, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    I have always been a fan of Keanu Reeves and I can’t wait to watch this one, even though I know it’s a below average film and as you labelled it ‘fluff entertainment’. I guess it’s a fan thingy. Nice review Dan.

  9. gilbertspeaks December 30, 2013 at 1:23 pm

    Dan, this is too funny. We must have gone to see this movie around the same time. I just posted my review of 47 Ronin on http://www.biffbampop.com I like your review; check out mine.

  10. Desperado316 December 30, 2013 at 1:34 pm

    I was really looking forward to this… But the reviews have put me off it. Disappointed… Utterly!

  11. Mystery Man December 30, 2013 at 4:26 pm

    I saw the trailers for this and it got me super excited, at first. Then I saw it again and it wasn’t that great. Still haven’t decided if I’m going to go see it or wait for the DVD yet. Just watched a Keanu martial arts flick, Man of Tai Chi, that was pretty average.

    Still, fluff action always works for me! Great review, man!

  12. ianthecool December 30, 2013 at 5:23 pm

    It sounds like a very inconsistent tone…

  13. ruth December 30, 2013 at 8:37 pm

    I figure this one wouldn’t be stellar but glad it’s still good enough to rent. Bummer that Keanu seems out of place here as I thought he’d be perfect for the story. Ah well, I like the guy enough that I’d still give it a rent though.

  14. Three Rows Back December 30, 2013 at 9:23 pm

    That’s a shame. Had been hoping this would have been one of those cheesy gems, although the trailer certainly didn’t do the film any favours. Good work Dan.

  15. falcon760 December 31, 2013 at 1:14 am

    Talk about a bomb! A 200 million dollar movie makes 20 million? Wow. I didn’t think people hated Keanu that much.

  16. allwordseo December 31, 2013 at 1:29 am

    Reblogged this on Scandalous World and commented:
    nice review

  17. Candice Frederick December 31, 2013 at 1:50 am

    this actually sounds like a disaster.

  18. Ash January 2, 2014 at 2:10 am

    Top review mate. Will add to my ‘must watch’ list, even if just to see what could’ve been.

  19. angie chui January 2, 2014 at 11:26 am

    I’m actually looking forward to seeing this one :D your review just made me all the more curious :D

  20. The Hot Rod January 2, 2014 at 11:51 am

    Yet another example of a film being better as a trailer than an actual film. I’ll still see this because it looked cool, but I’ll lower my expectations….

  21. mhofmeyer January 3, 2014 at 7:15 pm

    It was doomed from the beginning. First time director + massive budget + international cast + rewrites = A whole lot of disconnect. I am a Keanu fan though. Great review!

  22. vinculumblogs January 18, 2014 at 10:54 pm

    The trailer looks good. We are just not use to see film like this.

  23. vinculumblogs January 18, 2014 at 10:55 pm

    Reblogged this on Reviewers Hub and commented:
    Another film that will showcase artist and cinematography of both words.

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