47 Ronin

Watched 47 Ronin on Tuesday.

I really enjoyed it. No, it wasn’t historically accurate. Yes, it plopped a white dude in the middle of a quintessentially Japanese story1. Yes, it added a romance subplot. Yes, it added magic and fantastic elements. It was still fun.

The movie is problematic from a cultural appropriation and erasure standpoint. It fails to get major and minor details about Japanese life, society, language, or customs right. It warps a story about duty and honor into a love story. How much of those details are capable of being meaningfully conveyed to an audience without a pre-existing background in Japanese folklore, culture, and history is debatable.

For all of that, it was a rip-roaring fun movie. I do wonder how much the director’s2 intended cut would work and how different it would be from the current final product. Keanu Reeves was solid, nothing special, but not a drag upon the movie either. This is less an attempt at a historical epic, than someone using the bare frame of the historic event to create a fantasy film.

Highly recommended.


  1. See this wikipedia article for more background. 
  2. Carl Rinsch reportedly intended for Keanu Reeves to be less central to the movie. 

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