WINM Forums :: The Films of Keanu Reeves :: 47 Ronin

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47 Ronin
MmeRenard
2014-01-16 10:22


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I totally get that, Anakin. Individualism, especially in America, is seen as the ultimate value, really the opposite of the Eastern idea of no-self. Both have value, it's not a question of one worldview being better, they're just different. When I talk about bias, I don't usually mean it as a bad thing, simply a specific worldview through a set of lenses. We've all got them.

I also think Luca has a good point about the context being bigger, simply the Other / the Outsider being resented. It is an archetype, after all, and exists in probably all cultures to some degree. I find the relationship between Kai and Oishii fascinating and quite comforting.

Anakin McFly
2014-01-16 11:46

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Just a quick reply to ARYA's post for now because I'm in a rush:

I don't know if caning (or punishment in general) has anything to do with it, but it's a weird assumption; I don't steal or murder because it's wrong, not because I'm scared of going to jail. I don't vandalize or damage public property or litter because someone else is going to have to clean up that mess and it's inconsiderate, plus I want to live in a clean country, not because I'm afraid of being caned. It's really the last thing on my mind when it comes to making moral decisions, and it's likely the case for most other people.

A lot of it is education, I think - here we have things like moral education lessons starting in primary school (grade 1), where we're basically taught how to be excellent to each other and made to understand and empathize with the consequences to others that would arise from doing bad things. Singaporeans have been stereotyped as being really obedient, and I really don't think it's due to the punishments. At least, if all punishments were suddenly dropped tomorrow, I highly doubt that Singapore would suddenly become a hive of criminal activity.

ARYA
2014-01-16 12:08


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@ Anakin, All I asked is what was up with caning. Do they still do it? I am sure you are just a paragon of a citizen so no need to convince me. I do not know anything about how Singaporeans are stereotyped. But I have heard about public caning. So I asked.
Anakin McFly
2014-01-16 13:48

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I guess they still do it? But it's not public from what I know. There are some crimes that are punished with jail sentences and/or caning and/or death penalty.

I was just using myself as a rhetorical example; it's generally how most people in most places behave, I think. Most people aren't bad guys waiting to run rampant the moment laws are lifted.

Anakin McFly
2014-01-16 18:57

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And a story about how different = other = less than human, and how this perception hasn't really changed during the centuries since...
Let's not forget that the Dutch didn't treat Kai any better than the Japanese. On the contrary. So what does that say about the white men ?

Yup. It is about the Other. I really liked how they put in that scene with the Dutch; it made things better. But in general, I don't think the movie in itself was racist (at least not much more than every other movie); it's more about the circumstances that led to it and that affect the way the movie was received and perceived.


From the sj point, this movie simply cannot win.

Well, it's like with female characters - if she saves the day, she's a Mary Sue; if she needs other people to save her, she's an inept damsel in distress. Likewise in those cases, the stories themselves might not be sexist, but society's prejudices affect how we see them, and ideally filmmakers would have the responsibility to at least be aware of that. When it came to the reviewer (and Carl Rinsch, actually), what bugged me more was their obliviousness to how there was even a problem; it's like it didn't even cross their minds that people might be offended, and there was a vibe of them not fully understanding what they were doing. I particularly remember that anecdote from Rinsch about how he couldn't understand why the samurai would be so devoted to their master that they were willing to die for him, and to help, he thought of how he would react to his father's death. And it's great that he found ways to relate, but it showed that cultural gap of understanding.

From the SJ standpoint I think they would have been a lot happier if this movie had been a purely-Japanese cast and stuck to history without the supernatural additions. But it's Hollywood, and ultimately they're concerned about the box office and what people would pay to see. :/

LucaM
2014-01-16 22:11


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When it came to the reviewer (and Carl Rinsch, actually), what bugged me more was their obliviousness to how there was even a problem; it's like it didn't even cross their minds that people might be offended, and there was a vibe of them not fully understanding what they were doing. I particularly remember that anecdote from Rinsch about how he couldn't understand why the samurai would be so devoted to their master that they were willing to die for him, and to help, he thought of how he would react to his father's death. And it's great that he found ways to relate, but it showed that cultural gap of understanding.

True, that.

As for the fantasy elements... the story could have worked without them, too. But they add yet another level of otherness. Helps with the metaphors ;)

Anakin McFly
2014-01-16 22:35

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I liked the fantasy elements in there - it made it like the samurai Lord of the Rings, as it has been described. Practically all the big fantasy movies we get are based in Western culture: swords and sorcery and castles and wizards and so on, so it was a nice change of pace to have a fantasy world based in East Asian culture, which I'd previously usually only been able to see in Chinese-language films and not in a big-budget Hollywood production.

This movie's production was such a mess... so many conflicting visions from the director and studio execs and so on, and even in just the approach, there seemed to be a mix of those who were honestly interested in presenting a respectful version of the story, as well as those who were all YAY EXOTIC SAMURAI LET'S ADD DRAGONS AND STUFF.

I like how Keanu, as usual, really did his research - extremely intensely, and with great interest - and I guess he sets a standard against which I measure other people and find them inevitably coming short.

I've just been tired from all the politics around this movie, and the many debates and arguments I've gotten into over it about race and everything. I've both defended and criticised it, depending on the context, and its tiring to fight on both sides. This movie isn't at all as bad as some people have been making it out to be, in overall quality - I enjoyed it and thought it was beautifully made - or even just the racial aspects of it, but at the same time I don't consider the filmmakers and especially the studio execs to be completely blameless. They care too much about the box office. Which, well, it's a business, they do that.

LucaM
2014-01-16 22:41


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Mess is a mild word in this case. :|

As for Universal... I've said it before, I say it again: 47 Ronin is the last Universal movie I ever paid to see, unless any of their future projects features a certain actor. Otherwise... they better take a last look at those tickets ;)

Anakin McFly
2014-01-16 22:44

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...wait, what did Universal do? D:
LucaM
2014-01-16 22:47


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they fucked up the movie, basically.
And that press release about them taking a write-off on Ronin, published just the day before the US release of the movie... that's sabotage.
MmeRenard
2014-01-16 23:13


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I totally agree, Luca. I think it was about how the project was green lighted (green lit?) by a previous corporate head who had clearly made or gotten some grudges. In any case, Universal has not supported this film at all. I've never liked Universal, not TV, not film, and that much less now.

On the subject of cultural context, when I first saw the trailer, I was struck by " the dragon is evil!" because as I understand it, the dragon is seen more as powerful and positive in Asian culture. The dragon as evil = Satan is a very Western, really very Christian concept, think Smaug. I think it's dumb. I like dragons. Not that I've ever met one...

LucaM
2014-01-16 23:16


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The dragon wasn't evil, any more than the kirin was. The dragon, like the fox, were just avatars of the witch.
And the witch was in love... and was jealous... and vengeful.

ARYA
2014-01-16 23:37


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@Anakin, I can understand that caning is not that interesting to you. I was asking as your interest in social issues seems strong and the arguments, for and against corporal punishment, plays into why some feel less safe in the US. And institutionalization of something so barbaric could use some flack.
Very off topic so carry on with the 47Ronin love. Can't wait to have the dvd in my collection. Whatever the issues may be with that movie.
Anakin McFly
2014-01-17 00:22

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@LucaM - ah, ok. That felt like negligence more than sabotage, though; I don't think they cared enough about the movie to sabotage it.

@MmeRenard - yeah, dragons are seen as positive in Asian (or perhaps just Chinese?) culture. Though like LucaM said, the fox was another of the witch's incarnations, so I don't think they were necessarily meant to be seen as evil; powerful, perhaps.

@ARYA - oh. I misunderstood your question. I don't really have much of an opinion on corporal punishment, because it's not something I've thought a lot about.

ARYA
2014-01-17 01:26


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47 Ronin: A Satisfying Samurai Film

Forget the digits even ratings and focus on the film. Is 47 Ronin that awful? I think not.

47 Ronin is the comeback film of Keanu Reeves directed by Carl Rinsch and is produced by Scott Stuber, Pamela Abdy and Eric McLeod. The film tells the tale of 47 Ronin, a group of leaderless samurai that vowed to avenge their master’s death and restore honor to the people of Ako.

Kai, played by Reeves is a half British and half Japanese who was found almost lifeless in the woods. Seeing the young Kai, the compassionate Lord Asano Naganori (Min Tanaka) accepted him and was brought to the village of Ako. Despite Lord Asano’s welcome, the samurais led by Oishi (Hiroyuki Sanada), detest Kai except Lord Asano’s daughter, Mika (Kou Shibasaki). She also sees what his father saw on Kaia. She accepted Kai and eventually falls in love with him.

The story became more interesting when Ako was visited by the Shogun Tokugawa Tsunayoshi (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa) and the Lord Kira (Tadanobu Asano) who dreamed of ruling Ako. To his advantage, no one knew that he had a witch on his side. During their visit, the witch Mizuki quickly places a spell on Lord Asano.

Now bewitched, Lord Asano tries to kill Lord Kira but was stopped by Oishi and was awaken from the spell. The Shogun who imposes a strict system punishes Lord Asano and tells him to commit seppuku, a form of Japanese ritual suicide only for a samurai. Now leaderless, the forty seven ronin vowed to slay Lord Kira and bring honor back to Ako.

The Film
47 Ronin was released in theatres late last year. However, due to our yearly Metro Manila Film Festival, international films such as this was only shown this month. I did not have the intention to watch it, but my 119 minutes inside the theatre was amazing. 47 Ronin is definitely a satisfying Samurai film which makes me glad I watch anime and read James Clavell’s Shogun.

I was able to appreciate the film more and was able to move with it. In short, the story was well told. The cinematography and production designs were impressive. Can you still remember the grounds where they committed seppuku? The scene emitted a certain positive aura that says: “We do not care if we die. The important thing is we remained loyal to our leader and to our comrades.”

I must also say that the gestures were also notable. If you watched closely, Reeves seemed like real Japanese especially during the ritual. The fighting scenes, on the other hand, were perfectly executed. My favorite scene was when the 47 ronin was able to enter Lord Kira’s domain. It was dark, cold and full of surprises.

Apart from that, the actors played their roles well. Besides Keanu Reeves, Hiroyuki Sanada as Oishi and Rinko Kikuchi as Mizuki were great. I don’t know why some people complain that their English is awful. Honestly, it was not but I would like to hear them speak more Japanese. Overall, they delivered their lines well.

In fact, whenever Hiroyuki Sanada appears with or without lines, one can feel his presence. Looking at him, you’ll instantly know that he is of high rankings. Actress Rinko Kikuchi, I bet she looks familiar to you. She starred in Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim. I think the witch role suits her. The way she taunts Mika was priceless. Indeed, they both are good actors and I hope to see more of them.

For me, 47 Ronin is worth to watch. I feel ashamed I did not include it on my Top 10 Movies to Watch this 2014. But that does not matter anymore because I was able to watch it and I hope you do, too.

Happy Watching!

ClariSays: ☆☆☆☆.☆ 4.5/5

http://iamcatalina.tumblr.com/

LucaM
2014-01-17 06:28


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from the director's commentary on MOTC.

KR: Universal has a very big logo. We have the planet.


ahem ;)

ARYA
2014-01-17 22:12


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Look who turned up in Germany today.

http://youtu.be/oBOX51grrTY

http://youtu.be/oBOX51grrTY

ARYA
2014-01-18 01:07


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http://youtu.be/1aIRWkhQmoM

http://youtu.be/1aIRWkhQmoM

Christine2014-01-18 03:22


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Thank you Arya for posting ! Keanu was in München/Munich and I wasn`t there.. :-(
Does anyone know if he will be in Berlin in February (BERLINALE)?

Looking forward to seeing 47RONIN in Germany soon!

Christine2014-01-18 03:30


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http://www.muenchen.tv/mediathek/tag/keanu-reeves/#.UtmD3bQwfIU

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