187 of 207 people found the following review helpful
An Asian/American Masterpiece,
This review is from: 47 Ronin (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD with UltraViolet) (Blu-ray)
Gorgeously shot, vividly imagined, heavy and heartfelt - this movie should not be skipped by true fantasy-adventure fans.
I can see why mainstream America and the media misunderstood it - Asian protagonists, brooding tone, tragic romance, a plot driven by foreign ideals like "honor" and "shame." People with no exposure to a traditional Japanese world might scratch their head at the notion of seppuku, or leaving your wife to avenge lost honor, but if you are worldly enough to embrace different cultures and values, you will be rewarded by this richly imagined film.
Thematically, this movie is smart. First, the film is refreshingly devoid of any irony or post-modern humor that can weaken the modern blockbuster, which always seems to try to be all things to all people. So while the plot may be simple, it is still told in surprising ways. One can never entirely predict the next thing to happen throughout the movie, another novel way the movie is better than expected.
And the execution of this revenge yarn is layered with heavier topics like class, morality, equality and freedom. One of the two main protagonists is a low-class "half-breed" (actually half-demon) while the rest are pure Japanese. This intriguing character faithfully serves his masters while tolerating their cruelty, finally proving by the end to be transcendentally superior to all of their humiliation and ignominy. With a movie about slavery likely to take home Best Picture for 2013, it's a shame that this particular genre film is so easily dismissed by critics although it also delves into the difficult subject with an insightful and intelligent perspective. But again, the average member of the audience is probably a little taken aback by their hero grovelling for mercy to a holy emperor, when the typical American badass hero would simply shoot first.
The film is also a triumph on the technical end. If the wild monsters, ghosts, demons and witches don't appeal to you visually - all rendered in sleek new ways heretofore unseen in an American film - then perhaps the lush backgrounds and intricate costumes will entertain you in even the slowest scenes. Score, cinematography, editing, sound, acting - the movie is exquisitely made and best enjoyed on the biggest screen.
So despite being oddly pro-suicide, the movie is simply astounding. It is a genuine cinematic masterpiece, especially for its unique historical Japanese backdrop. To the right pallet, there are few movies better at what they do than this.
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Showing 1-10 of 21 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 13, 2014 3:24:39 PM PDT
Jared M. Kuntz says:
Well, it wasn't necessarily pro-suicide; it was purely a look at feudal Japan with epic fantasy elements, with the central themes being honor, friendship and love. Seppuku was part of the Japanese code of honor, so it technically is not pro-suicide, but i can see how it would be looked at as so. Great review though! I'm glad i am not the only one who saw how great the film was.
In reply to an earlier post on Mar 17, 2014 4:15:10 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 18, 2014 8:51:31 AM PDT
Kurt Russell says:
Yeah, maybe "pro-suicide" doesn't quite explain things right, but I think you got what I meant to say. Maybe "glamorize" is better? I know there are many historical/cultural differences at play here. This is such a great movie, but I'd just hate for the wrong type of impressionable/disturbed fan to somehow think it's good to kill yourself, with which I wholeheartedly disagree. To most viewers, they'll understand everything just fine.
Like I said, that's literally my ONLY complaint about it.
Posted on Mar 18, 2014 8:24:28 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 18, 2014 8:25:43 AM PDT
Ryan Perez says:
Great review...are you really Kurt Russell?! Like, really really?!?!
In reply to an earlier post on Mar 18, 2014 10:22:51 AM PDT
Kurt Russell says:
"It's all in the reflexes."
Posted on Mar 31, 2014 7:49:34 AM PDT
James R. Pannozzi says:
My fear is that they have spoiled the story by adding fantasy elements. The trailer looks good but I'm afraid I've seen one too many computer generated nonsense movies, some with very fine actors, lately. I'll have to wait until it shows up in the $5 bin at Walmart.
Posted on Apr 1, 2014 2:14:15 PM PDT
Neal Fleisig says:
Great review! Agreed with most of it. I have spent quite a bit of time in Japan and saw only a few small issues that would really not jive with traditional/acceptable standards for a samurai movie. Actually, the places in the movie which veered from typical Japanese produced samurai film were creative and tasteful in my opinion. What's your guess as to why the film was poorly received in Japan?
In reply to an earlier post on Apr 2, 2014 6:16:30 AM PDT
B. Daniel says:
Don't wait. The fantastical elements aren't that big in the film actually. The story itself takes center stage and the cgi creatures are pretty much background or a means to an end, not a major part of the film.
Posted on Apr 7, 2014 11:19:19 AM PDT
Ronald C. Fleming says:
It's still amazing to me how a movie about fantasy characters and magic can be referenced in the same sentence as a movie such as 12yrs A Slave. The fact that it was, shows how trivial Slavery has become in the minds of people. Ron F.
Posted on Apr 8, 2014 3:00:55 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 8, 2014 3:24:58 PM PDT
Yikes!!! I'm not sure what you mean by "masterpiece" but for a film that is truly a masterpiece on these same subjects you should watch "When the Last Sword is Drawn" and for an American film about Japan that actually moved a Japanese audience you could watch The Last Samurai. To call this film a "masterpiece" by any definition of fine film making on the subject of Japan, this time period and the values of the period this film is as close to a cartoon as you can get. There is no true Japanese aesthetic being honored in this film. Watch "When the Last Sword is Drawn", its free if you have Prime, or "13 Assassins" and you will see what I mean.
I didn't hate 47 Ronin but I cannot heap it with praise. Its the kind of film with a Japanese theme they make palatable for Americans to draw an America audience. Watch the original "The Loyal 47 Ronin", at least it tried to remain true to the historical story.