'47 Ronin' Stuntman Talks Realistic Action, Reshoots, and Eight-Foot Tall Samurai
by Matt Patches
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.