…It’s very rare that we have a movie that’s source material is so steeped in legend, that the legend is basis of a nations personal identity. 12 years a slave is one such movie, and I’ll speak to my experience with that movie at another time, as I’m still gathering my thoughts on it in an attempt to be neutral, but in the case of Japan, we’ve have a few movies that made this attempt, “Memoirs of a Geisha”, “The last Samurai” “Letters from Okinawa”. Some of these movies have been a hit or miss, each in it’s own way. “Memoirs” and “The Last Samurai” were the closest of these to display the identity of Japan, but “Memoirs” was the closest of these and in my opinion, the best.

So how does 47 Ronin stack up against these other movies. The first thing I’ll say about this film…It’s no “Roots”. The movie chronicles the exploits of 47 samurais quest for vengeance and justice after their master is forced to commit seppuku because of an betrayal from an rival lord. Now I will be the first to say, that Keanue Reeves was not necessary for this movie. There was literally no reason for them to add him to the cast, save to fill seats. He was about as necessary to the plot as Tom Cruise was to “Last Samurai”, but he didn’t hurt the movie either. Much of his parts could’ve been filled by the actor playing the main characters son, and in fact I would’ve enjoyed it more if he had.

The pacing of the movie is all over the place, it’s slow , it’s fast and the slow again. Much of the movie is unfocused and unpolished, but this works for it. The biggest problem this movie faced is it’s direction. It couldn’t really decide whether or not it was a period piece, or an action movie. In fact, had the fantasy portions of the movie been removed, this would’ve been a very compelling piece of cinema.

The cast was amazing, each member had it’s place and moment, and ultimately brought it together to make a fantastic, if unfocused film. It served to get me interested in the real tail, and I think the story itself is fantastic, but Hollywood didn’t need a white actor to sell the tale to America, as there were no white people involved in it, so there it should stand to reason that these actors could’ve held the movie together by themselves.

Everyone should see this movie as it is fun and enjoyable, even with the odd pacing and unnecessary attempt to inject a white character into the mix. I recommend it as it is a wonderful piece that attempts to honor the sacrifice that had been made by these magnificent 47 Samurai.