HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Horrible Histories: The Movie - Rotten Romans
Pentathlon
Anna
Moulin Rouge
Ray & Liz
African Queen, The
Helen Morgan Story, The
Golem, Der
Yentl
Finishing Line, The
Triple Threat
Mysterious Castle in the Carpathians, The
Driven
Planet of the Dinosaurs
Gwen
Big Breadwinner Hog
Thunder Road
Moby Dick
Frankenstein's Great Aunt Tillie
Mad Room, The
Phantom of the Megaplex
Night Sitter, The
Child's Play
Power, The
Midsommar
After Midnight
Dolemite is My Name
Varda by Agnes
Toy Story 4
Master Z: Ip Man Legacy
Man Who Never Was, The
Greener Grass
Scobie Malone
Gangster, the Cop, the Devil, The
Brightburn
Satanic Panic
Claudine
Harpoon
Great Northfield Minnesota Raid, The
Dark Phoenix
   
 
Newest Articles
Sorry I Missed You: Les Demoiselles de Rochefort on Blu-ray
Silliest of the Silly: Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 1 on Blu-ray
Protest Songs: Hair on Blu-ray
Peak 80s Schwarzenegger: The Running Man and Red Heat
Rock On: That'll Be the Day and Stardust on Blu-ray
Growing Up in Public: 7-63 Up on Blu-ray
Learn Your Craft: Legend of the Witches and Secret Rites on Blu-ray
70s Psycho-Thrillers! And Soon the Darkness and Fright on Blu-ray
Split: Stephen King and George A. Romero's The Dark Half on Blu-ray
Disney Post-Walt: Three Gamechangers
But Doctor, I Am Pagliacci: Tony Hancock's The Rebel and The Punch and Judy Man on Blu-ray
Once Upon a Time in Deadwood: Interview with Director Rene Perez
Shit-Eating Grim: Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom on Blu-ray
Stallone's 80s Action Alpha and Omega: Nighthawks and Lock Up
Python Prehistory: At Last the 1948 Show and Do Not Adjust Your Set on DVD
You Could Grow to Love This Place: Local Hero on Blu-ray
Anglo-American: Joseph Losey Blu-ray Double Bill - The Criminal and The Go-Between
Marvel's Least Loved and Most Loved: Fantastic 4 vs Avengers: Endgame
Battle of the Skeksis: The Dark Crystal Now and Then
American Madness: Sam Fuller's Shock Corridor and The Naked Kiss on Blu-ray
Flight of the Navigator and the 80s Futurekids
Trains and Training: The British Transport Films Collection Volume 13 on DVD
Holiday from Hell: In Bruges on Blu-ray
The Comedy Stylings of Kurt Russell: Used Cars and Captain Ron
Robot Rocked: The Avengers Cybernauts Trilogy on Blu-ray
   
 
  47 Ronin Distinctly lacking in Keanu ReevesBuy this film here.
Year: 1994
Director: Kon Ichikawa
Stars: Ken Takakura, Kiichi Nakai, Rie Miyazawa, Koichi Iwaki, Ryudo Uzaki, Tatsuo Matsumura, Hisashi Igawa, Gaku Yamamoto, Hitomi Kuroki, Yuko Kotegawa, Saburo Ishikura, Renji Ishibashi, Isao Bito
Genre: Drama, Historical, Adventure
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Japan, 1702: feudal Lord Asano draws his sword against Lord Kira. As punishment the Shogunate order Asano to commit suicide. To cover-up the reason behind Asano's attack the Shogunate seize his lands, robbing his faithful samurai of their livelihood, homes and honour. Which does not sit well with chief retainer Oishi (Ken Takakura). Months later Oishi assembles his forty-six comrades outlining an audacious plan to raid Ako Castle and avenge their unjustly executed lord.

Chushingura or the story of the Forty-Seven Ronin (a ronin is a master-less samurai) is nothing less than the national legend of Japan. As a story that exemplifies the samurai code of bushido it has been told time and again in a variety of incarnations on stage and of course in movies, most recently the flop Keanu Reeves vehicle 47 Ronin (2014). Such is its popularity in Japan, audiences in 1994 happily flocked to two different film versions. Competing with Kinji Fukasaku's more fantastical Crest of Betrayal, veteran auteur Kon Ichikawa delivered this starry adaptation which was also in its own modest way a fairly radical treatment of a familiar tale. While Fukasaku embellished his version with supernatural elements and characters blasting each other with energy beams (predating the effects-heavy Hollywood version by several years), Ichikawa went the opposite route paring the story to its bare essentials with an emphasis on strategy, psychology and sociopolitical detail over action, at least until the bloody finale.

Ichikawa's subdued, cerebral approach earned the film considerable acclaim in Japan where it won numerous awards yet failed to bolster enduring appeal among international cult film fans who evidently prefer their samurai flicks action-packed and bloody as hell. In truth there is a bit of a gulf between purists that favour the stately, classical 'Jidai geki' (historical drama) film practiced by old-school auteurs like Ichikawa, Akira Kurosawa or Hiroshi Inagaki and the frenzied comic book exploitation style exemplified by Seventies chanbara (swordplay) films like Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart at the River Styx (1972). What some admired as a contemplative, character driven chamber piece placing an emphasis on inner conflict over showy swordplay, bored others to death with talky, meandering drama and confusing, culturally-specific symbolism.

Certainly the film plods along in rather dry fashion. Voice-over narration sketches in historical details in a manner unfortunately reminiscent of a docu-drama for NHK. Fortunately the film benefits from the commanding presence of Japanese movie icon Ken Takakura who allows cracks in his stoic samurai facade to let his humanity seep through. Surprisingly the May-December romantic sub-plot pairing the then-sixty-three year old Takakura with sexy Rie Miyazawa, the It-Girl of Japanese pop culture in the Nineties, injects a spark of vitality and charm. In the midst of all the stoic samurai emoting, theirs is a rather sweet relationship that implies there is life beyond the bushido code of valour even though some might wander what Oishi is doing impregnating a teenager when he has a wife back home. Different rules for the feudal era, one imagines. There is quite a moving sub-plot where Oishi realizes his only son must accompany him on what is sure to be a suicide mission along with an interesting touch of ambiguity as we never learn why Lord Asano tried to kill Kira. In true samurai fashion Oishi ultimately concludes it simply does not matter, his lord's death is all he cares about. Ichikawa's visual flair and keen understanding of traditional Japanese symbolism render this an arresting cinematic experience albeit one that likely resonates better with a Japanese audience who know this story back to front. He plays around with the chronology of events delving into the political, financial and social ramifications of events from Asano's attack and suicide to the ronin's climactic retaliation. However this version omits the aftermath of the raid on Ako castle which is arguably as significant to this legend. While not as spectacularly visceral as other versions the climax is still exciting and rendered with interesting details such as servants providing the ronin with food and drink in the midst of the raid. Yukio Isohata's cinematography combines well with Kensaku Tanikawa's powerful score to create a foreboding atmosphere throughout.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 1978 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star do you think makes the best coffee?
Emma Stone
Anna Kendrick
Michelle Rodriguez
Sir Patrick Stewart
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Enoch Sneed
Darren Jones
Paul Smith
  Rachel Franke
Paul Shrimpton
  Desbris M
   

 

Last Updated: