The genesis of Universal's 47 Ronin is almost as tragic as the actual history that the movie is culling from. As the story goes, Universal saw the sprigs of talent sprouting from fresh faced director Carl Rinsch, whose previous experience was limited to just a couple of commercials and a nifty short film. The studio decided to ease the new director into feature filmmaking by cutting him what amounts to virtually a blank check, and giving him charge over a multi-national samurai fantasy epic. Almost impossibly, the film isn't a complete disaster. It's just a minor one.
47 Ronin follows the classic story of the titular team of warriors, a group of disgraced samurai who band together to seek revenge against a merciless warlord that betrayed and killed their master. But this isn't your grandfather's version of the story. 47 Ronin is an international affair, and it's covered with a veneer of Japanese mysticism and a thick coating of Hollywood lacquer, but east meets west rather uncomfortably, and it's mostly due to Keanu Reeves. Reeves' character is clearly crowbarred into the story that has no room for him, and it's plainly obvious where the seams of the story were stretched in order to patch him into the narrative. Reeves plays Kai, a half Japanese, half English orphan who is adopted by the samurai clan. His character serves no real purpose beyond being white, slicing things until they die, and playing the male lead of the most superfluous love story of the year. Rinsch simply can't make the inclusion of the character feel organic in any way, and "Kai" ends up feeling like a calculated studio move. It's a shame that the film spends so much time on Reeves when the real star is clearly Hiroyuki Sanada, who plays off the stoic samurai most believably among the rest of the cast.
It's also shame that with all the mysticism pumped into the story, there's no magic in the actual center of the film, the ronin themselves. The only personality trait a samurai is allowed to possess seems to be unerring stoicism, and between all 47 ronin, there are probably only three distinct samurai with any discernible character traits beyond an intense need to brood, and you'll probably only remember those three by the time the credits roll, only to promptly forget about them only a few hours later. Thankfully, Rinko Kikuchi's slinky and treacherous witch adds some much needed camp and personality to the mostly forgettable human characters.
And that's the issue with 47 Ronin. It's largely forgettable. When your film takes on a historical legend like the tale of the 47 ronin, a story that has been told and told again ad nauseum over the years, you really need to justify your own version. There are reels and reels of film dedicated to this story, and 47 Ronin doesn't manage to add anything significant to the canon. It promises to weld myth and history together, but does so clumsily, and while some of the action scenes are exciting, especially a particularly inspired set piece that involves the ronin noiselessly breaking into a heavily guarded fortress, the film is a bore when it's not clanking swords together.
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47 Ronin is a film with many stories. As much as it is a tale about the revenge of four dozen masterless samurai, it's also the tale of an inexperienced filmmaker swallowed up by the enormity of blockbuster filmmaking. Most of all though, It's proof that you shouldn't cram Keanu Reeves into a movie that doesn't really need Keanu Reeves. What you're left with is a dull and bloated samurai epic that has its moments, but feels largely unnecessary.
The No Country for Old Men star portrays Sargeant John O'Mara in the period film, about cops who are trying to keep Los Angeles free of gangsters during the 1940s and '50s, and one scene featured a bust up between Brolin and Penn's character, mobster Mickey Cohen.
The brawl put the pair's fitness to the test, and Brolin admits it was made all the more difficult because Penn had not perfected the fight choreography.
He says, "The fight I did with Sean Penn (was the most challenging scene). He didn't rehearse as much as I did so his fists were flying wildly during the fight, hoping they (camera operators) got something that was usable. It was a tough fight and I love the way that it turned out, but I think for both of us being the current and ex smokers that we are, that was the most challenging on an oxygen level."
The socialite and her partner Cy Waits were driving down the famous Las Vegas Strip when their car was pulled over by cops.
Waits was arrested on suspicion of DUI and Hilton was charged with cocaine possession after police officers allegedly found drugs in her purse.
Now new reports suggest Waits has lost his job as head of nightclub operations for Wynn and Encore properties following the scandal.
A Las Vegas insider tells E! Online, "Wynn has a zero-tolerance policy with their club execs when it comes to brushes with the law."
The news comes as new details about the night's events have emerged, with a police officer claiming cops discovered Hilton was carrying a quantity of suspicious white powder when she opened her purse to apply her lip balm and a small bag fell out.
Police sargeant John Sheahan tells the New York Daily News, "Miss Hilton pulled out a tube of lip balm. At the same time... a bindle (sic) of cocaine in a plastic bag came out of her purse."
Hilton's lawyer David Chesnoff remains adamant the socialite will be "exonerated". He says, "As the case proceeds, a lot of facts are going to come to light that will ultimately lead to exoneration."