“For the crime of disobedience, you should all be executed as common criminals, but you and your men follow the old ways of Bushido, to honor your lord and avenge treachery. I see only samurai before me.” – Shogun Tsunayoshi (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa)
Are you feeling properly inspired? You should be! The quote comes from the film 47 Ronin and this film is good. In fact, I would go so far as to say it is great. It’s a fantastical take on an actual event from Japanese history that is revered much the same way the Battle of the Alamo is in American history. 47 Ronin takes the historic event and gives it a Lord of the Rings treatment. By that I mean: a great cast, epic scenery, and an incredible story.
I know I may have lost you with my claim of a great cast, especially if you are thinking of this as a Keanu Reeves movie, SPOILER ALERT! This is not a Keanu Reeves movie. The movie features an amazing ensemble cast, led by Hiroyuki Sanada, of which Mr. Reeves plays a very small part. The film also includes Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, a great actor most nerds will recognize as Shang Tsung from the first Mortal Kombat film. In fact, the entire cast is outstanding and deserves much praise for their job bringing this epic to the screen. Sadly, the involvement of Keanu Reeves in the film has kept many people from seeing it and that needs to change.
Visually this movie is amazing and needs to be ranked up there with Hero, 7 years in Tibet, and all of the Lord of the Rings films. Between the epic landscapes and the beautiful choreography, this movie is visually pleasing the entire time. The choreography is not just the amazing fights scenes; this film also does a great job capturing the traditional practice of Seppuku (Japanese ritual sacrifice) and the importance that it has in Shogunate society.
Beyond the stunning, visual effects, the story is a wonderfully crafted tale about the importance of honor and the steps taken to reclaim it. Honor is utmost for the Samauri and they will go to extreme lengths to uphold their honor. In the Samurai’s quest to avenge their Lord and regain their honor, they are confronted with the reality of their own prejudices and must deal with those prejudices before the true battle to regain their honor can begin. If you haven’t guessed it, Keanu Reeves is the focus of these prejudices. The best part about his role is that he isn’t some great white savior who will save them all. In fact, most of the victories come from the strengths of each of the individual Samurai as they face their demons.
I want to tell you so much more, but that would give too much away. So I will simply tell you this: This movie deserves your time. It has a little something for everyone: action, adventure, suspense, romance, magic…. you get my point! Do yourself a favor and give this film a chance, if you didn’t while it was in the theaters. It is available from Universal Studios Home Entertainment, and in all your favorite formats DVD/Blu-Ray on April 1st or Digital HD now! So make sure to pick it up, you can thank me later!
The Good Nerd
Verdict: Thumbs Up