47 Ronin (2013)

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47 Ronin                                 47 Ronin Film Poster                            

UK Release Date: December 26th, 2013 (UK)

Running Time: 119 mins.

Director: Carl Erik Rinsch

Writer: Chris Morgan, Hossein Amini

Starring: Keanu Reeves, Hiroyuki Sanada, Kou Shibasaki, Tadanobu Asano, Rinko Kikuchi, Jin Akanishi, Min Tanaka, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa,

47 Ronin is the Hollywood adaptation of a real incident from Japan’s samurai past during the Tokugawa era where 47 masterless samurai seek revenge over the death of their Lord through the assassination of another even though it means certain death. It is a celebrated tale that has been turned into multiple films because it typifies the bravery and loyalty of the samurai at a time when they were losing their place in the country. Instead of sticking firmly to the facts the writers of this version favour have endeavoured to make a fantasy epic close to The Lord of the Rings (perhaps to make it more palatable to a mainstream audience?) but in doing so they make a vapid and dull action film.

Ancient feudal Japan. A group of magical islands full of witches and demons. Peace is kept by samurai. The story of 47 Ronin is the story of all Japan.

The first character we meet is a boy named Kai, the illegitimate son of a British sailor and a Japanese peasant woman who was abandoned in a forest raised by Tengu. He is fleeing the forest in which they live so he can experience a life amongst humans. During his escape he runs into Lord Asano (Tanaka) and his entourage. Asano takes pity on the boy and takes him in. Asano’s samurai are displeased, not least his loyal general Oishi (Sanada), but his daughter Mika takes a liking to Kai.

Fast forward to the future and Kai (Reeves) is an outcast in Asano’s kingdom. He is held in contempt by the haughty samurai, usually referred to as half-breed and treated like a dog, but the love of Mika (Sibasaki) is enough joy for him to remain in the service of her father. This loyalty is called upon when the evil Lord Kira (Asano) and a witch named Mizuki (Kikuchi) use magic to destroy Asano and steal his lands. Oishi, banished with the rest of Asano’s samurai plot their revenge and it is Kai with his mysterious past who will play a pivotal role.

47 Ronin Keanu Reeves in Samurai Armour

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Pacific Rim

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Pacific Rim                                                        Pacific Rim Japanese Film Poster

Japanese Title: パシフィック リム 

Romaji: Pashifikku Rimu

UK Release Date: July 04th, 2013

Running Time: 132 mins.

Director: Guillermo del Toro

Writer: Guillermo del Toro, Travis Beacham

Starring: Charlie Hunnan, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day, Ron Perlman, Burn Gorman, Max Martini, Robert Kazinsky, Clifton Collins Jr., Mana Ashida

I like Guillermo del Toro films. I’ve seen Hellboy 1 & 2, The Devil’s Backbone, Chronos and Pan’s Labyrinth in a cinema. Deep down he’s a fanboy like me, a guy who grew up reading and watching everything from anime to gothic fiction. Pacific Rim reflects his love for the distinctly Japanese mecha and kaiju-eiga genres. Giant robots vs giant monsters. Think Gigantor vs Godzilla. I know my mecha. I grew up in love with tales like Patlabor, Evangelion, Gasaraki and Macross (not so much Gundam) and I’m partial to a bit of giant monster carnage so trust me when I tell you that this genre mash-up is God-tier.

Warning, this is a long babbling review listing loads of stuff I loved and loads of Gifs that I created to celebrate it.

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