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TV show review: CONTINUUM season 4
PHOTOGRAPHY

47 RONIN

Blu-ray review by David Blackwell

 

DETAILS:  119 minutes, four featurettes, four deleted scenes, previews, DVD, digital HD Ultraviolet copy

VIDEO: 2.40:1 (Anamorphic Widescreen) 1080p High Definition

AUDIO (Blu-ray): English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English 2.0 DVS, French 5.1 DTS Digital Surround, Spanish 5.1 DTS Digital Surround

AUDIO (DVD): English 5.1 Dolby Digital, French 5.1 DD, Spanish 5.1 DD, English 2.0 DVS

AUDIO (extras): English 2.0 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

 

STUDIO: Universal Pictures/ Relativity Media

Theatrical RELEASE DATE:  12-25-2013

Blu-ray/ DVD RELEASE DATE: 4-1-2014

47 RONIN is a tale inspired by the true story of how 47 ronin planned two years to avenge the death of their lord who died at the treachery of another lord in the age of the samurai in Japan.  It has been adapted before into movies and plays and now Universal Pictures has made their mark with their version which is a big budget experiment that didn’t fantasy creatures and CGI landscapes in addition to finding a weak excuse to explain why Keanu Reeves is supposed to be at the center of this revenge plot as a half breed named Kai.   Kai and 46 ronin put together a plot in short fashion after Kai is put into slavery and the lead Japanese ronin is thrown in a pit for a year after their lord commits seppuku due to the treachery laid by a witch who can shape shift into a white fox and a dragon while also being able to manipulate her hair to use chop sticks (and look damn evil sexy in green satin robes and messy bed head hair). 

 

I enjoyed 47 RONIN to an extent even though I realize it has to be one of the most awesome bad big budget movies of the year while writing this review.  Did they really need fantasy elements to tell the tale of 47 RONIN?  No.  Did they need to spend $175 million to $225 million to make this CGI overspend of this movie?  No.     Did Rinko Kinkuchi look really sexy as the evil witch and seem to really enjoy it?  Yes, you bet her ass she did.   Should they have got a different director for this movie and scaled back on the massive budget before even filming it?  Yes.  Did they get Japanese culture and the code of the samurai correct?  Yes.  They even stay with the ending of the true tale.  Maybe they should have got the director of 13 ASSASSINS to direct it instead and you should check out the plot and execution of 13 ASSASSINS to see how the revenge plot by ronin plays out much better than 47 RONIN.  

 

47 RONIN does play out better on a second viewing because I notice more how it does give a window into Japanese culture and the samurai code.   The production design is great, the costume design is luscious, the action sequences are very well executed and easy to follow (no crazy editing), and the actors are spot on with breathing life into their characters.  Keanu Reeves is in his zone playing action characters as he imdues with emotion through his eyes. I am one of the many that is disappointed that the tattooed guy with a gun on the cover only features in a blink and you will miss him moment.   I say the movie isn’t as bad as some reviewers make it out to be, but it isn’t my favorite Keanu Reeves movie either.

 

SPECIAL FEATURES:

Four deleted scenes (almost eight minutes total) show extra bits that were cut for pacing and story reasons.

 

RE-FORGING THE LEGEND- The cast and crew talk about how they brought 47 RONIN to life for Western audiences with re-imagining it with fantasy elements.   Interviews with cast and crew are interspersed with behind-the-scenes footage and clips from the film.

KEANU & KAI- all about the character of Kai and the performance of Keanu Reeves as Kai (with praise from the director and crew for his dedication to bringing the character to life).

STEEL FURY: THE FIGHTS OF 47 RONIN- a behind-the-scenes look at the fighting of 47 RONIN which shows katana training between Keanu Reeves and Hiroyuki Sanada, modifying the fight scene between Keanu and an eight foot actor (because they decided not to go the CGI route with the eight foot tall evil samurai), and more.

MYTHS, MAGIC & MONSTERS: THE FX OF 47 RONIN looks at how they created the mythological monsters for the film with a combo of practical stunt work and CGI effects.  Director Carl Rinsch was responsible for reimagining the creatures of Japanese myth for the movie.

 

Rounding out the blu-ray disc are previews for other movies and BATTLESTAR GALATICA.

 

The movie is included on DVD in standard definition in addition to being apply to download and stream the film in Digital HD which works with Ultraviolet and iTunes.

 

FINAL ANALYSIS:  47 RONIN plays better on repeat viewings with its blend of action and a look into Japanese culture of the past.  I do wish they included more extensive making-of featurettes, but the brief featurettes still manage to give some info on the making of 47 RONIN.

 

This review is 4-4-2014 David Blackwell and cannot be reprinted without permission. Send all comments to feedback@enterline-media.com

 

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