October 18, 2012 1:12pm EST
Many have been quick to judge Keanu Reeves' 3D samurai epic 47 Ronin, following the blockbuster's release date shuffle from Nov. 2012 to Feb. 2013, and then again to Dec. 2013. Rumors the film was in trouble were only made foggier by announced reshoots that took place earlier this year. But so far, zero footage from the feature debut from commercial director Carl Rinsch has been released, providing little insight into the look and feel of the finished product.
A year out from 47 Ronin's release means we may not see trailer for a some time, but stunt coordinator Gary Powell tells Hollywood.com that Rinsch's continued work on the film is all happening to strengthen the story and tone. "It was a quick couple of weeks reshoot, story points and all that," says Powell. "It will make the film better. I have not seen it, but all the visual effects people [say] there are a hell of a lot of visual effects. But it looks really nice."
Powell, whose recent credits as a stunt coordinator include The Bourne Ultimatum, Unstoppable, and the upcoming Bond film Skyfall, was also able to shed light on what to expect on the action side of the film. "[There is] a lot of fighting. We have a pretty good horse chase at the start of it, with this mystical creature. Keanu did a lot of action on that."
Powell describes 47 Ronin as a tough tonal balancing act between realism and a fantastical edge that lends itself to a big blockbuster. He notes that the reshoots were brought on to help solidify the two sides of the story, but that Rinsch was dedicated to reality from the very beginning. "The fights are more believable than, say, the ones that are around a lot these days," says Powell. "Where you slice someone in the face and spin around six times before you hit the floor. Carl can't stand that stuff, basically."
But 47 Ronin doesn't skimp on the imaginative either. Powell notes that he and Rinsch threw "a few sweeteners in there for the kids," when it came to the action sequences. The story of the 47 samurai who embark on a journey to avenge their master takes a few nods from Japanese anime. "It definitely has that tone to it. There is a huge eight-foot samurai in it, and that sort of thing. We play with the fantasy side of it quite a bit, but we want to keep it believable."
47 Ronin stars Keanu Reeves, Hiroyuki Sanada, Kou Shibasaki, and Tadanobu Asano and arrives in theaters Dec. 25, 2013.
Check back soon for our full interview with Gary Powell and the amazing stunts of Skyfall.
Follow Matt Patches on Twitter @misterpatches
[Photo Credit: Universal Pictures]
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Carl Erik Rinsch made a huge splash in the advertising industry with his high-concept storytelling. That brought Hollywood to his doorstep and he was quickly attached to a handful of exciting science fiction and fantasy projects (Logan's Run and The Creature From The Black Lagoon among others) that were too pricey for established action directors to work on. We've been hearing his name for years now but haven't seen one of his films go into production. So when he was hired by Universal Pictures to helm 47 Ronin, a period-set samurai flick with Keanu Reeves headlining, I was skeptical about its priority at the studio.
Now it seems the project is finally getting underway as Variety reports that a quartet of foreign actors have been cast. Right off the bat, I'm stoked about Asian actors playing Japanese characters. I'm glad that Universal isn't pulling a Last Airbender and hiring SoCal American's to play hardened feudal warriors. Authenticity will be in tact in this film and I'm enthusiastic, especially since there are a few bad-ass actors involved. Let's have a look.
First we have Tadanobu Asano, who is perhaps best known for his leading role in Takashi Miike's Ichi the Killer as well as the lauded Mongol. He'll become even more recognizable this year when he co-stars in Thor and will have two big Universal films to open in 2012 (including this one) because he's got a part in Peter Berg's Battleship. Next up is Rinko Kikuchi, a feisty little thing who was seen showing her hoo-ha in Babel and added international flavor to Rian Johnson's The Brothers Bloom. Most geek worthy is Hiroyuki Sanada, who appeared in The Last Samurai, Rush Hour 3, Speed Racer and the final season of ABC's Lost as an enigmatic protector of the island known only as Dogen. Finally we have Kou Shibasaki, a singing sensation who made her film debut in Kinji Fukasaku's acclaimed Battle Royale. Have a look at them all below (thanks to CS for the photo mash-up).
You may not be familiar with all of these actors, but that's not the point. The point is that the the famous fact-based story about a band of samurai swordsmen who avenge the death of their master in 18th Century Japan will look and feel like a genuine period piece, not just a soulless Hollywood product. Chris Morgan (Wanted, Fast Five) penned the screenplay for this epic actioner, which is on course to release on November 11th, 2012 in 3D.