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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that 47 Ronin is based on a famous Japanese story about an event that took place in the 18th century and though the violence is largely bloodless, there are swordfights with mixed martial arts and two beheadings. Characters are pierced with arrows and appear to die. Characters commit ritual suicide. We also see some fantasy violence, such as witchcraft and monsters. Sex is not an issue, but the main male and female characters are shown to be in love, though they barely touch. Some concubines, who wear heavy makeup and serve men, are part of the story. A man is put under a spell, and he has some hallucinations. One of the hallucinations is that he imagines his daughter being raped, though she is fully clothed.
What's the story?
In ancient feudal Japan, an evil Lord Kira (Tadanobu Asano) and a witch (Rinko Kikuchi) plot to take over a rival province by disgracing its leader, Lord Asano, and turning its samurai warriors into ronin (i.e. masterless samurai). After surviving a year in captivity, Oishi (Hiroyuki Sanada) bands together the ronin for revenge, and enlists the aid of a mysterious half-breed, Kai (Keanu Reeves), who seems to have special abilities. Together they must stop Lord Kira before he marries Lord Asano's beautiful daughter Mika (Kou Shibasaki). Kai has another reason to go into battle: he secretly loves Mika, and she loves him. But can the ronin survive the impossible odds -- and witchcraft -- that lay ahead?
Is it any good?
Following several classic versions of this story, including Kenji Mizoguchi's 1941 movie, and the 1962 version with Toshiro Mifune -- the new English-language version of 47 RONIN seems entirely pointless. Not to mention that it's vaguely insulting, relying on a Western director, Carl Rinsch, and a Western star, Keanu Reeves, to make it appealing to Western audiences.
At the helm, Rinsch turns in a movie that's deadly serious yet entirely lifeless. The action scenes are totally confusing, and several little plot threads are lazily abandoned or sidestepped. (What happened to the samurai who was poisoned by the witch?) The pace is monotonous and numbing. Its only attempt at humor is at the expense of a "jolly fat man," which just goes to underline just how culturally backward the entire project really is. Ultimately, this is an expensive flop that has wasted the talents of its cast.
Families can talk about...
- Families can talk about the movie's violence. Is it exciting or gruesome? How does it leave you feeling? Does visible blood make the violence feel more realistic? How much blood would really be shed during violence like we see on the screen?
- How do you feel about the idea of a white main character and a white director telling this story? Are non-Japanese allowed to tell a Japanese story? How can different cultures positively represent one another in movies?
- Is the "jolly fat man" character a stereotype? What is his purpose in the movie?
|Theatrical release date:||December 25, 2013|
|DVD release date:||April 1, 2014|
|Cast:||Hiroyuki Sanada, Keanu Reeves, Rinko Kikuchi|
|Topics:||Magic and fantasy, Sports and martial arts|
|Run time:||119 minutes|
|MPAA explanation:||intense sequences of violence and action, some disturbing images, and thematic elements|