Script Review: Keanu Reeves Vehicle 47 RONIN
by Stephanie Sanchez
An IESB reader who likes to call himself GHOST has written in with a review of the latest Keanu Reeves project, 47 RONIN...whoa...I know kung fu, not Samurai!
Set to be directed by Carl Rinsch and written by Chris Morgan, 47 RONIN is set up over at Universal Pictures and chronicles the famous story of a band of Ronin (masterless Samurais) who go on a quest to avenge the death of their master in 18th century Japan.
In "47 Ronin," Reeves plays one of the swordsmen; the group and their master are revered in Japan for their revenge attack on Dec. 14, 1702.
The film will tell a stylized version of the story, mixing fantasy elements of the sort seen in "The Lord of the Rings" pics, with gritty battle scenes akin to those in films such as "Gladiator."
Check out what GHOST said about the 47 RONIN script below!
My recent acquisition comes in the form of a film adaptation of the Japanese legend of the 47 RONIN, written by Chris Morgan. I will warn you now, if you decide to continue reading this will include spoilers, suffice to say the article may even self destruct after reading.
The film opens with a title card explaining the setting, feudal Japan, age of the Shoguns and Samurai and the Code of Bushido. One important note is that is any samurai were to ever fail or lose his master or betray the code he becomes Ronin. Thus begins the legend.
Things continue to shots of a Samurai hunting party followed by their supply train of peasant hauling supplies. Here we meet our hero and star, oddly enough named HIRO. HIRO is a half asian, half European peasant of the lowest class. Since he's a "halfbreed", he's considered lowest of the low.
Back to the hunting party we meet LORD ASANO, the noble ruler in his 60s of these people and his second in command OISHI KURANOSUKE in his 40s. They are tracking a beast of some kind that has been harassing the country side. Long story short HIRO saves the day and lets a cowardly young samurai named YASANO take the credit since he is of such low class. All the while OISHI actually saw the whole thing happen.
Back home at the AKO CASTLE, the Lord's daughter, Princess Mika watches the party return. She's looking for someone in particular. He father arrives and addresses his men. HIRO the lowly peasant watched as the men walk off to their places of honor while he can't be a part of it. Much to the surprise of HIRO, OISHI catches him and tell him that if it we possible he too deserves the honor, but it's not due to HIRO being a half breed.
We later see HIRO trying to wash the anger away as someone walk in on him... we then realize the person the Princess was looking for is him.
The next day LORD ASANO is preparing for the arrival of the Shogun, or Imperial Guard. We also learn that one of the rules during their visit no blade is to unsheathed, not even a kitchen knife. To draw any blade what so ever carries a death sentence. The Lord also makes a comment to his head of staff that his daughter is seeing someone as he caught her sneaking back to her quarters.
Next scene is of OISHA's home and his family. We meet his wife, HISAE and his son CHIKARRA. He is small for his age and has difficulty sparring with his father. Despite the reassurances of his father, CHIKARRA he is not ready to be a Samurai. They are interrupted by a messenger, none other than HIRO, from the castle that an envoy from the Shogun has arrived and apparently way too early. So back to the castle we go to meet the main antagonist.
The envoy turns out to be LORD KIRA YOSHINAKA, and yes the guy really existed and is the cause for the revenge to come. This guy is so damn pompous it's ridiculous. He is the Shogun Master of Protocol and a wealthy aristocrat. You can pretty much imagine him looking everything over with much disapproval since he is obviously higher up on the food chain. Along with him is his enormous body guard in full armor. LORD KIRA kind of mocks LORD ASANO and talks about his land and his daughter in a manner that suggests he wants them for himself. After he leaves, ASANO and OISHI talk about how tradition has been lost and all that people think about now is status and how they both would love to just squash LORD KIRA like the little bug he is.
Cut to the scene of the Shogun army arriving. Imagine something in the form of Xerxes army from 300. Enter SHOGUN TOKUGAWA TSUNAYOSHI, by far the most imposing figure as of yet in the movie... this guy is huge and scary, he is the very image of war and control. After some awkward pleasantries we give way to the ceremonies. The Princess performs a dance that enthralls LORD KIRA. She shoots a fleeting glance at HIRO that OISHI catches and is now aware of their little romance. Now things are about to get interesting. As part of the festivities, Samurais from all the houses in attendance have a ceremonial battle. Imagine a bunch of roided out guys in full armor each representing their masters. Turns out that the Samurai to do battle for LORD ASANO is missing.
So HIRO being the messenger is sent out to find him along with CHIKARRA. Long story short the guy was poisoned, by I wonder who, and CHIKARRA convinces HIRO to take his place... Not the best idea but oh well, so long as his helmet stays on he should be ok. HIRO hold his own really well until the only guy left is LORD KIRA's enormous body guard. This guy manages to get the best of HIRO and manages to throw him to the ground in defeat also managing to knock off his helmet, much to the disappointment of everyone. HIRO manages to take the blame for the whole ordeal and save LORD ASANO but the damage is done. Lucky for HIRO that his life is also sparred since he is a half breed animal and not worthy if killing. He is none the less reminded by the Shogun leader that can never be a samurai because he is a half breed.
Punishment is then carried out in full view of everyone present. He is stripped of his armor and beaten with batons within an inch of his live. Throughout all this LORD KIRA is relishing his little victory and LORD ASANO realizes through the heart wrenching reaction of his daughter that the man she has been seeing is HIRO. Cut to LORD KIRA pacing in his room talking to a ratty old woman, possibly the same that he used to poison the Samurai earlier. By some sort of witchcraft they trick LORD ASANO into thinking that his daughter is in trouble. He hallucinates and runs to her room, bursting through the door with sword drawn only to realize he is actually in KIRA's room and is now standing over him right as the guards storm the room. Now having broken the rule of drawing a blade while the Shogun is in house, he is sentenced to death at his own hand or seppuku as is the way of the Samurai.
Dressed in all white he is taken to the ceremonial room where this is to take place. I'll leave out the ritual suicide details but suffice to say he dies. In the aftermath OISHI and his men are stripped of their armor and honor and deemed RONIN, the lands given to KIRA to govern and he takes PRINCESS MIKA as his to be bride after her year of mourning for her father is over. Thus he will own his lands and have his daughter. As much as the Samurai vow revenge OISHI tells them to wait, for them to strike when least expected. They are disbanded and scattered across the country. HIRO is sold as a slave to Dutch traders, and OISHI is sent to prison for a year. They vow to return after the year and take their revenge. After the year is up and KIRA thinks that OISHI's spirit is sufficiently broken he is released. He reunites with his wife and son and sets of to gather up his men.
After breaking out HIRO and gathering what's left of the RONIN from the countryside they gather in a hidden place. They realize they there are only 46 of them left. CHIKARRA volunteers and they become... The 47 RONIN. Here's where I will sum up the endind. They set off to a hidden/fabled place to find weapons, all the while being followed by KIRA's NINJA CLANSLORD spy and his men. Inter-cut with scenic footage, a fight scene between the men and the ninjas, we come to the final turn of events. Finally they get to exact revenge for their master. HIRO has earned the respect of the rest of rest of the men an he will fight as one of them.
They sneak their way into KIRA's stronghold and turn the place upside down. Long story short they kill KIRA, behead him and take his head back to their master's former castle. With their master avenged they now face justice at the hands of the SHOGUN. The sentence is death because they defied the law of no revenge, but because they exacted justice and followed the Bushido Code they receive death sentences as Samurai, all including HIRO. CHIKARRA is spared due to age and so his father's name may live on. They all commit Seppuku, and are buried as SAMURAI next to their Master LORD ASANO. Thus is the "adapted" story of the 47 Ronin.
I must say it looks like a pretty awesome script and could be a pretty epic movie.
Call me GHOST!