47 Ronin

EAST meets west with a flurry of digital trickery in 47 Ronin, an ill-conceived martial arts epic inspired by the real-life tale of a group of Samurai.

While the original story is tightly woven into Japanese culture, Carl Rinsch’s lavish spectacle will quickly be forgotten. This is little more than a hoary B-movie with little interest in the nuances of Tokugawa-era Japan.

Screenwriters Chris Morgan and Hossein Amini turn to sorcery to spice up their emotionally-starved narrative, and call upon the warlocks of the special effects department to conjure a horned monster, a mythical dragon and a shape-shifting witch out of the ether.

The desecration of revered source material is complete by casting Keanu Reeves as the vacuous hero, and gifting lifeless, stilted English dialogue to some of Japan’s best loved actors.

Reeves plays outcast Kai, who is taken in by kindly Lord Asano (Tanaka) despite the other subjects labelling him a demon. Kai grows up a sensitive soul and catches the eye of Asano’s spirited daughter, Mika (Shibasaki), but he realises their romance across the social divide is doomed.

47 Ronin could be Slash Of The Titans considering how much emphasis director Rinsch places on fantastical elements and action-packed skirmishes between swordsmen and hulking foes.

Reeves has never been the most expressive actor and here he is practically zombified.