• 47 Ronin (Blu-ray 3-D/Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack)

    47 Ronin
    Released by: Universal Studios
    Released on: April 1st, 2014.
    Director: Carl Rinsch
    Cast: Keanu Reeves, Hiroyuki Sanada, Tadanobu Asano, Rinko Kikuchi, Ko Shibasaki
    Year: 2013
    Purchase From Amazon

    The Movie:

    Directed by Carl Rinsch, 2013’s 47 Ronin begins with a weird pseudo-animated introductory scene that explains to us westerners the concept of a ‘ronin’ before launching into a scene where a gang of samurai including a half breed named Kai (Keanu Reeves) hunt down some sort of crazy dragon monster thing with a really long tail. Though Kai is the one who bravely makes the kill, because of his mixed ancestry he doesn’t get the credit, though he remains loyal to Lord Asano (Min Tanaka), the man who raised him. The child of a British sailor and a Japanese peasant woman, he was educated early in life by The Tengu, a strange mythical creature.

    Kai’s life is more complicated than it would seem, however, because he and Mika (Kou Shibasaki), Asano’s daughter, are deeply in love. And then there’s the matter of the sneaky Lord Kira (Tadanobu Asano) and his foxy (Ha! She’s a good looking woman who can turn into a fox, so that’s clever, right) concubine, Mizuki (Rinko Kinkuchi). They’re out to usurp whatever power they can, even if that means getting rid of Asano. When the Shogun (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa) himself commands that Mika marry not Kai but Kira, things go from bad to worse and the samurai who were once loyal to Asano go rogue, Kai included. This rag tag group of sword swinging warriors band together to avenge Asano’s death and take Kira and Mizuki out of the picture permanently, even if the Shogun forbids such action.

    Throw logic out the window for this one. Do you want background info on Kai? You’ll get it, sort of. You will at least get to see how he’s fought and defeated all sorts of different people from different races over the years, but don’t expect to learn much about his parents or how he wound up being educated by a magical creature. It’s all very superficial, but superficial is the name of the game here. There are also wave after wave of cultural anomalies here, from the fact that Mika and Kai are left alone constantly without anyone from Asano’s inner circle keeping an eye on things to the whole ‘white guy saves the Japanese because somehow he’s the ultimate warrior’ thing that Hollywood loves to cram down the throats of western audiences. On top of that there are obvious visual inspirations taken from Chinese films and western films and European films, all of which are pretty to look at and visually kind of cool but which only further serve as elements that make us refuse to buy the fact that any of this is taking place in feudal Japan. And much of it literally does not, as large parts of the movie were, for some reason, filmed in Europe.

    This all makes for a hard pill to swallow, though to Reeves’ credit he moves well with a sword and the martial arts training he has received serves him well here. But let’s be honest… who are you following into battle, Keanu Reeves or Hiroyuki Sanada (who has a decent supporting role here)? I’m going with the guy who was a member of the Japan Action Club, the one who trained with Sonny Chiba. Call me crazy, but he’s got more credibility in this department. Add to that the fact that the love story between Kai and Mike feels about as natural as Queen touring with Adam Lambert and you can quickly see how this one goes downhill fast.

    And yet it’s hard to blame Reeves for this as the problem lies not with his typically deadpan performance but with the script and its complete lack of sense. The movie goes at a good pace and delivers plenty of digitally enhanced action scenes and battles with CGI monsters but it fails to really tell much of a story. There are plot lines aplenty but they don’t gel the way that they should and this winds up feeling like a whole lot of interesting ideas taken from other (better) movies (the various Japanese versions of 47 Ronin being obvious examples) with no regard for what made those movies as intense and as gripping as they were and still remain. The visuals here are admittedly impressive but there’s not much to go along with it to back them up.


    47 Ronin arrives on Blu-ray framed at 2.40.1 widescreen in AVC encoded 1080p high definition. The transfer is very nice, it’s bright and colorful and nicely detailed. There are no issues with compression and the digitally shot production is crisp and clean, free of any obvious video noise. Skin tones look good, black levels are solid – there’s not much to complain about here.

    Audio options are provided in English language DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, Spanish DTS Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and French DTS Digital Surround Sound with optional subtitles offered up in English SDH, French and Spanish. The lossless option on this disc is a good one. The battle scenes have all sorts of wild directional effects to appreciate while the more subtle moments in the movie use the rears to fill in the mix with some appreciable ambient and background noises. Dialogue is crystal clear, the score sounds great and the levels are nicely balanced too.

    The extras are fairly plentiful starting with the featurettes, the first of which is Re-forging the Legend which is a pretty standard making of piece that talks about the inspiration for the movie and how the filmmakers and their teams went about creating the world in which all of this takes place. Keanu & Kai explores the film’s leading man and his take on the Kai character with input from Reeves and director Rinsch among others. It’s interesting to learn about what Reeves brought to the role in terms of martial arts prowess. Steel Fury: The Fights Of 47 Ronin is a well-made piece that explores the technology and chorography efforts that went into crafting some of the more intense action sequences showcased in the feature while Myths, Magic & Monsters: The FX of 47 Ronin shows how the different monsters and fantastical creatures that populate the world of the movie were created digitally.

    Rounding out the extras are a few deleted scenes, previews for a few unrelated Universal properties, animated menus and chapter selection. Additionally, as this is a combo pack release you not only get the 3D Blu-ray disc and the regular Blu-ray disc but you also get a DVD version (which omits the Keanu & Kai, Steel Fury and Myths featurettes) and download codes for a digital copy via Ultraviolet. All of this comes housed inside a standard size Blu-ray case that in turn fits inside a lenticular slipcover.

    The Final Word:

    47 Ronin is a pretty ridiculous ‘reimagining’ of some classic Japanese source material but the action scenes are admittedly impressive. Unfortunately this is an exercise in style over substance and a film that requires you to check your brain at the door. As to the Blu-ray from Universal? It looks good, sounds even better and has a decent selection of extras.
    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 4 Comments
    1. sukebanboy's Avatar
      sukebanboy -
      Haha..I have this in my possession as I write these words.Not expecting much more than a ridiculously high budgeted B-movie..and I hope to enjoy it as such!
    1. Nolando's Avatar
      Nolando -
      And don't diss the Queen pairing w/ Adam Lambert until you've seen it!
    1. Ian Jane's Avatar
      Ian Jane -
      Oh, I'll diss alright. And you can't stop me.
    1. sukebanboy's Avatar
      sukebanboy -
      Quote Originally Posted by Ian Jane View Post
      Oh, I'll diss alright. And you can't stop me.
      Don't stop me now..i'm having such a good time?