A review of the samurai film “47 Ronin”

A ronin is a samurai without a lord. In early 18th century Japan, 47 ronin sought to avenge the death of their master knowing that, even if they survived the endeavour, they would be put to death for breaching the authority of the shogun.

This true story is very well-known to all Japanese because of the sense of nobility that it coveys and it has been represented in many films, plays and even an opera. This 2013 Hollywood version of the Ako incident invents a mixed-race character with special powers played by Keanu Reeves who looks the part and brings his reputation for few words and much action to this fantasy adventure movie.

The film went down badly in Japan, even though most of the actors are Japanese, because the narrative differs so much from the traditional tale. It did little better outside Japan because the one star, Reeves, was not a sufficient draw (this was before his “John Wick” movies). But, on a cold winter’s evening in front of a television, it proved watchable enough for two hours.


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