All original written content is (c) 2013 Mike Pascale. Visual content is (c) its respective owners. Bru-Hed is a trademark of All Ages Media and Mike Pascale.
THIS WEEK: For what seems like the first time in over a month, I don’t have to begin with “the long-awaited second installment” of something! This is the Keanu Reeves martial arts “quest” film, based loosely (“inspired by” is the official term) on the Japanese historical account of the 47 ronin in the early 1700s.
- If you like Keanu Reeves as an actor, he has plenty of screen-time. If you don’t, he has maybe a couple dozen lines in the whole picture; most of the time he’s either fighting or “emoting”. The story really isn’t about him, just his part in the legend and quest.
- Contrary to what you’d expect, there are no subtitles–all the Asians speak English! True, there are some Godzilla-like accents like “We won’t ret you go”, but the dialog is pretty clear otherwise. (Reeves is the only round-eye in the film, other than a scene in another city full of pirates and gamblers.)
- If you’re a fan of old Japanese culture, you’ll love this.
- The costuming is amazing. Colorful. Seems accurate. I really couldn’t care less about such crap, but art-boy Pascale tells me it’s Oscar-nominee-worthy. I will say the armor is pretty badass, even if it looks hard as hell to fight in.
- Same thing with the “cinematography.” Great scenery, locations and sets. Awesome on the giant screen.
- Monsters are COOL. Not a lot of ‘em, but the ones they got are imaginative. Yeah, you know they’re fake (you mean there aren’t giant dragons and six-eyed, hoofed beasts with antlers?) but the designs make up for it. Special effects like the winding, floating and undulating fabric of the witch’s dress are done perfectly.
- Villains you’ll love to hate; the witch-bitch especially. I wanted to see her naked as much as I wanted to see her killed! That’s a good baddie.
- Fight scenes are chaotic and action-packed. The one shown in the previews with the dude that looked like an ogre reject from THE HOBBIT is pretty good as for how it ends and goes to the next action sequence.
- Wider appeal than the trailer shows: it’s a love story as much as it’s a vengeance quest as much as it’s a tale of honor and duty. [Mike: My wife thought it was better than expected.]
- This has nothing to do with the lame Frank Miller comic of the 80s. [Craig: It’s actually pretty good.]
- What I said about seeing the bad-girl naked? Didn’t happen. No nakedness. No sex. No other hot chicks.
- The feudal Japanese-Samurai honor system is pretty whacked. The things you have to die for, and that suicide is an “honor”, would really suck.
- The head dude, ruler of the area, was a real stick-up-the-butt type. Probably dead-accurate, but also looked like he was smelling something nasty all the time.
- Though there wasn’t much, some of the lovey-dovey stuff was too mushy for a macho guy like me. [Mike:That’s ‘cause Bru has the romantic soul of a beer can. One of my favorite lines was, “I will search for you through 1,000 worlds and 10,000 lifetimes.” So there.] See what I mean? Mushy like Pascale’s skull.
- The Jappy names of the characters and towns tended to either sound alike (a few started with “A”) or confusing to my God-loving American ears. They shoulda just used names like Phil, Steve, Bob, Sally…
SEE IT. The scenery and action sequences in 47 RONIN make the big-screen treatment worthwhile. I paid an extra two bucks to see it in DFX and got my sawbuck’s worth. Didn’t see it in 3D.
Well, that’s it for 2013, pals an’ gals. Happy New Year!! Look for more good movies (and even better reviews by yours truly) in 2014!
P.S.: THIS JUST IN: Pascale is gonna raise his commission rates. Greedy bastard. But you can still get some original art at a very reasonable price till the end o’ Tuesday. Just ask Craig here!
DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed by Bru’s Reviews are not necessarily those of Wednesday’s Heroes, Mike Pascale, or Asian historical culture. If Bru-Hed were a Japanese warrior, he’d be either a moanin’ ronin (complaining the whole quest), or a salami-rai–defending his lord for beer and cured meat.