This film from 2013, starring Keanu Reeves, is losely based on the traditional Japanese tale of honor and loyalty.
It has also been burned to the ground by critics... so I was really curious when I started watching...
In the age of the samurai, Kai, halfbreed of a japanese peasant girl and an english sailor, and trained by the Tengu (Forest Demons) lives in Ako province. But the rival lord Kira wants to get the province for his own, and through treachery, deceit and witchcraft makes it so that the local lord has to perform Seppuku, and getting the lord`s daughter Miko forced into marrying him.
His samurai are exiled, now becoming Ronin, leaderless warriors and a great shame for their honour. However, Oishi, their leader, cannot stand the injustice done and goes against the Shogun`s order that their lord was not to be avenged. Together with Kai and his former men, he creates a plan to slay Lord Kira.
While this at first goes awry and they are ambushed, the surviving 47 craft an elaborate plot to infiltrate the wedding ceremony and free Miko, slaying both the Witch that protected Kira, as avenging their master. They are granted the honour by the Shogun that instead of being hanged like common criminals, they are reinstated as samurai to be able to perform the seppoku ritual themselves and be buried with their lord, as they followed the ancient laws of Bushido.
Surely, Keanu hasn`t been hot since the Matrix anymore as an actor. Yes, it is only very vaguely based on the original story. Yes, there isn`t much character development and it isn`t an action roller coaster like today`s action flicks.
Yet, it didn`t deserve to be burned down so much. It might have bombed at the 2013 box office, in a generation of movie goers that want big explosions and flashy actions. But this isn`t a bad film at all. It has great scenery and costumes (heck, it even snatched some award nominations in those categories), the Witch is creepy (and she played a far better part then in Pacific Rim) yet erotically sensual, and it has great action scenes in the swordfights.
The whole sequence of the wedding infiltration was damn awesome if you ask me, and it stood out in the current day climate by being in a very different `atmosphere` then the usual. Oh, and everyone remained dressed, that`s rather unique as well nowadays...
It was just that, a movie to sit back and enjoy, without all the bells and whistles.
6.5 / 10
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