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Kon Ichikawa's 47 Ronin (1994)

Koji Ishizaka , Hisaya Morishige , Kon Ichikawa  |  Unrated |  DVD
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Koji Ishizaka, Hisaya Morishige, Ken Takakura, Ruriko Asaoka
  • Directors: Kon Ichikawa
  • Format: Full Screen, Color, Dolby, NTSC
  • Language: Japanese
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: ANIMEIGO
  • DVD Release Date: July 17, 2007
  • Run Time: 129 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000PHW2PO
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #246,942 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

When a beloved feudal lord is forced to commit seppuku (ritual suicide) for assaulting a rude court official, 47 of his loyal retainers vow to avenge his death for the sake of honor. After patiently waiting and planning for over a year, they launch an epic assault that culminates in a final act of vengeance and, inevitably, their own inescapable demise.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Modern Retelling of the 47 May 5, 2008
Chushingura, the story of the Loyal 47 Ronin, has been put to film over 80 times. What can Ichikawa Kon's (Burmese Harp) 1994 version add to the many others? This version is well acted and focuses more on the planning of their revenge on Lord Kira than Toho's 1962 Classic: Chushingura.
Both of these films were produced by Toho, both were filmed in color, and both are available in the United States. Where they differ is that this version lacks the epic scope (and the epic running time of 207 minutes) of Chushingura. 47 Ronin fictionalizes (as all versions do) the behind the scenes planning and back stories of the people involved in this true historical event. We begin to see beyond the surface of the characters to their motivations and feelings; this is very much a modern reading of this story.
47 Ronin is beautifully filmed, capturing the many seasons of Japan, but this production at times looks like a television series. In some scenes a background open doorway is so overexposed that it almost engulfs the characters in the foreground. This would never happen in a first rate movie production. This is a minor quibble, because the acting and story is strong.
This can be a hard film to follow because a Japanese audience would know the characters so well because it is such a famous historical folk story. Reading accounts of the true events would help the western viewer enjoy the film more (AnimEigo provides an overview in the special features).
One other production note: AnimEigo has done a terrible job with the subtitles here. In some scenes dialogue is color coded is three colors which is very distancing and at other times a definition of a Japanese term appears in white text at the top of the screen! This is very distracting and takes away from what's on the screen (it's hard to read two sets of subtitles and watch the action at the same time!)
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The 47 Human Beings June 15, 2009
There are so many filmed versions of the classical Japanese tale of loyalty, The 47 Ronin also known as Chushingura, that sometimes there is very little incentive to try another version. But then you see the name "Ichikawa Kon" in the title, one of the legendary "Four Knights" of Japanese film (along with Kurosawa Akira, Kobayashi Masaki and Kinoshiita Keisuke), and you know it is worth your time.

Ichikawa's version is almost the complete opposite of Inagaki Hiroshi's famous sweeping epic Chushingura. Whereas Inagaki's version is all wide-screen and big, Ichikawa's story is intimate and personal. Inagaki filmed heroes. Ichikawa films men.

The story of the 47 Ronin is familiar, and generally needs no introduction. It is the Japanese equivalent of the Gunfight at the OK Corral, an actual historical event that has become so legendary that the true story has almost been lost. Young Lord Asano is provoked by Lord Kira in the Emperor's court, and draws his sword in a violent but ultimately failed attack. For this transgression, Asano is ordered to commit seppuki, ritual suicide, and his lands and castle are confiscated. Of his more than three hundred retainers, forty-seven decide to remain loyal, and bide their time for a year hiding their vengeance until one explosive winter night they assault the castle of Lord Kira to finish what their master had begun.

The 47 Ronin have become so legendary that they are inhuman, each a living embodiment of cherished Japanese ideals of courage and loyalty.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pointless remake adds little to world cinema December 27, 2011
By cxlxmx
I'm not sure what the point of this film is. The story of the 47 ronin has been told many times, and excellent versions already exist. In order to differentiate itself, the director has made choices here that confuse the plot--and I'm not just talking about poor timeline re-mixes. For example, the decision not let the audience know the reason for the disagreement that sets the story in motion calls into question the ronins' motives. If it is not clear that Lord Kira did anything wrong, why is he the target? Likewise, the "humanizing" of the characters detracts from the point of telling the story. If Oishi has taken up with a mistress out of attraction rather than as cover for the assassination plot, it bleeds all the sense of sacrifice out of the ronin's perseverance. These sorts of changes are fine if you're going to go out on a limb and really try to under-cut the traditional interpretation of the events in the name of Art. But in fact, the viewer has little to conclude in the end other than that the ronin acted virtuously, as ever other version of the film tells us. I thought this was an inferior interpretation even if it did have interesting moments.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A superb film September 1, 2012
This is a brilliant film. The pace is slow and deliberate and provides a lot of character development and plot explication. You have to pay close attention to all that is said. The subtitles are excellent. The quiet moments and pauses give it an intensity that is beyond the understanding of action junkies, although the fighting is quite dramatic and bloody. The cinematography is beautiful (exquisite color and scene framing) and the acting is fulsome and passionate. If you have the attention span of a two-year-old, this movie is not for you. If you appreciate nuance, depth, and subtlety, it is.
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