run time: 119 mins
considered: Action, Adventure, Fantasy
starring: Keanu Reeves, Min Tanaka, Kô Shibasaki, Hiroyuki Sanada, Tadanobu Asano, Rinko Kikuchi
– This movie is based on a real life tale from the 18th century. I have explained the whole story in the summary so it has many spoilers. If you don’t want to know what happens, scroll down to my thoughts.
movie summary: A band of samurai set out to avenge the death and dishonor of their master at the hands of a ruthless shogun. (www.imdb.com)
Keanu Reeves returns to the big screen as Kai, a half-human/half-demon who serves Lord Asano (Min Tanaka) in 18th century Japan. Kai is secretly in love with Lord Asano’s daughter Mika (Kô Shibasaki) despite the disapproval of Ôishi (Hiroyuki Sanada) the leader of the Samurai. The lives of Kai, Mika, Ôishi, and Lord Asano are about to turned upside when another Lord, Lord Kira (Tadanobu Asano) employs a witch (Rinko Kikuchi) to put a spell on Lord Asano to take over his kingdom.
As a guest at Lord Asano’s house, Lord Kira is attacked during the night. According to Japanese customs and laws, since the house guest was unarmed when he was attacked Lord Asano has disgraced himself and his family. The only way he can restore his name is killing himself with his own sword in front of the whole village. Kai has a feeling that Lord Asano was under a spell but Ôishi doesn’t believe him. Within days Lord Asano kills himself then his daughter is given away to Lord Kira who is now the ruler of the village. His first step is to capture and sell Kai into slavery, then disband the samurai warriors, and kick them out of the village. Lord Kira now has double the authority, his own army protecting his kingdom, and the power of a witch.
Ôishi spends 18 months in a deep dark hole as a prisoner until he is released. He begins to lay out a plan to regroup the samurai along with the help of Kai to attack Lord Kira and regain the honor of Lord Asano. For a few days Ôishi travels by horse to rescue Kai from slave fights before meeting the rest of the samurai who have gathered along the riverbed. The group has no weapons since being stripped of all their armour and swords, so the group must travel to the dark forest in search of swords. Most of the guys in the group do not like the “half-breed” (Kai) being part of the group but he was brought along because of his fighting skills and his ability to connect with the spirits in the dark forest. After a few mind games from the Lord of the dark forest, Kai and Ôishi are able to get enough swords for the 47 samurai who begin their journey back to Lord Kira’s kingdom.
The witch is able to sense their presence but the men are quiet and sneaky as they enter into the kingdom. After taking over some of Lord Kira’s guards the numbers are in their favor to over take him and kill him. The witch has to the ability to disappear and reappear as a creature, but every time she reappears Kai is there. She has finally met her match and they battle as the rest of the men with Ôishi capture Lord Kira and kill him. The highest Lord gets word that the 47 samurai has gone against his orders about seeking revenge, so by Japanese standards the 47 men have to die by their own sword to restore their honor and make everything right again.
my thoughts: I will admit if I wasn’t on a quest for 100 movies I may have passed on this movie. It looked really bad in the trailers and ended up that way at the end of two hours. Keanu Reeves was the major star in the film, but was kinda just in the picture. He was focused on during some parts and an after thought in others. He has special powers much like the witch, but let’s be honest here, neither one of them really have this real life ability to move and change themselves like these two do during the movie. Also there were probably witches back then although I’d bet not as powerful as this one is portrayed. Their CGI doesn’t fit with the time period, but for dramatic effects why not throw it in. From the figures I have read so far this movie will end up being one major financial bomb in terms of production costs compared to ticket sales.
I’m being generous with my star rating because the movie wasn’t horrible, just some parts don’t make sense, and Japanese laws/customs/beliefs are just so crazy.
my star rating: 5 out 10