47 Ronin (d. Carl Rinsch USA 2013)

47 Ronin (d. Carl Rinsch USA 2013)

Please read ‘On Reviews‘ for a guide to how I write film reviews. Any spoilers are appropriately marked and, though I personally prefer to know little about a film before seeing it, there is a synopsis at the bottom for any who wish to see one.


Entertainment: starfish starfish starfish starfish

Performances: starfish starfish starfish

Predictability: starfish starfish starfish

Technical: starfish starfish starfish starfish starfish


47 Ronin based on a japanese legend and, inspite of the inclusion of Keanu Reeves (Kai), the film boasts an impressive cast of Japanese actors. With films like Pacific Rim (d. Guillermo del Toro USA 2013) and the upcoming Godzilla (d. Gareth Edwards USA 2014), it is clear that Hollywood has a big interest in Japan. This interest seemed to have started with Ringu / The Ring (d. Hideo Nakata Japan 1998) and its subsequent remake The Ring (d. Gore Verbinski USA/Japan 2002). Fifteen years later and the interest is still strong. 47 Ronin is yet another response to this interest. A respectful response, judging by cast decisions. The cast includes some of the hottest Japanese talent of the our day: Tadanobu Asano (Lord Kira), Ko Shibasaki (Mika), Hiroyuki Sanada (Oishi) and Rinko Kikuchi (witch).


Despite the wonderful selection of talents, an unfortunately small amount of screen time is given to the actors and the scenes that do are either basic or focusing on action. So much could have gone into the performances, if the film just let them have the chance. The moments they do feature in sees each actor excel but the film really isn’t about performances. The film is far more interested in technical aspects (more on that later) than to focus on the cast. Additionally, some moments of performance appear in brief as to ensure a 12A rating (PG-13 for USA). Some scenes caused me to think back to Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai (d. Takashi Miike Japan/UK 2011) for its own graphic depictions that allow for an impressive performance by the actor in question. SPOILER: The suicide ritual in 47 Ronin is shown in brief, but in Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai you are treated for lengthy, brutal scenes that really showcases the actors ability.


As mentioned earlier, 47 Ronin really is a film about technical abilities. The use of CGI in this film is used to compliment the elements and the narrative allows for some abstract uses of CGI. The decision to focus on fantasy, magic and mythology allows for the depiction of things that aren’t realistic and cannot accurately be compared. As a consequence the CGI is purposeful and unlikely to age. There is also a strong focus on colours and cinematography, the film is beautifully shot. Also complimenting this is the set designs, costumes and also elements of choreography. It is actually a shame that we could not see more of this type of creativity present in this film. What exists in this film is so impressive that it leaves a spectator hungry for more.


47 Ronin certainly has its moments and it certainly does look beautiful. What a shame that the script wasn’t written to showcase the cast a bit more. Instead each actor is almost being used for their star qualities. Of course what we do see of each actor is impressive but a spectator may be left wondering what could have been. A stunning film at times. Could have been so much more. I’m sure there’ll be more chances to see the cast at their best. Besides that, when all else is said, it’s wonderful to see an embrace of a Japanese cast – even if they had to add Keanu Reeves.


Further Reading



Official Site

Tadanobu Asano’s Site

Ko Shibasaki’s Site

Interview with Keanu Reeves

Interview with Ko Shibasaki and Jin Akanishi

Interview with Carl Rinsch



A story of Honour, in a period piece about exiled samurais, who are determined to avenge their fallen master. Their fallen master, who had been tricked into his own death. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.