Keanu Reeves is back, this time instead of martial arts he wields katanas! Yes he’s a friggin’ samurai!
Truth to be honest, I didn’t plan to watch this movie at all. I was bored and the rest of my family wanted to watch Frozen, so I opted to watch this movie alone. Now that I watched it, I can’t help but to hope that this movie becomes a cult or something like that.
That’s because the movie itself is a Japanese history lesson which is great for me, because I love Japan. But the thing is, nowadays people only watch this kind of movie if they are bored or if they are casual viewers that’s looking for a good time. After watching this movie, I feel like if this was released back in 2007, it would be fantastic, but now, it feels like it’s more of a mediocre movie.
Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to love the movie, and the thing that got me into watching this movie is the return of Keanu Reeves (as far as I remember Man of Tai Chi wasn’t released in my country), and the whole thing of being a Japanese Hollywood movie. Speaking of Hollywood, this movie feels like the historical version of The Wolverine, because it’s somewhat similar in certain aspects! Heck, Wikipedia even stated that the movie has special thanks on Hugh Jackman, Rila Fukushima and Hiroyuki Sanada, the cast of The Wolverine!
I think that this movie would be more enjoyable in 3D, because the CGI wasn’t really that great and is suited more for 3D viewings. But most people disliked 3D movies, so that’s a little shame considering that this movie excels the use of 3D, although it can’t beat Dredd 3D.
While the CGI is bad (but nowhere near X-Men Origins: Wolverine’s level), the action scenes is really AWESOME. Maybe it’s because I’m a big Japan fan, so seeing samurai swordfights makes me go joy all over. But really, I’m glad that they put an effort to the action scenes, so at least the movie itself isn’t that boring. However, I do feel that the climactic action scene is a little videogame-ish. I mean Keanu Reeves fought Rinko Kikuchi who turns into a serpent thing, and it really feels like a video game.
I did say that the movie is boring, no? Well not for me. I found that the problem with this movie is that it had a slow built up, but it was necessary. I mean this is a Japanese history lesson movie, I can see that some people would be bored by the first half of the movie. That being said the movie is nowhere near bad, at least it has some humor, and the humor is WAY better than Man of Steel‘s “Superman’s hot” joke.
Now let’s talk about the cast. First is the main marketing tool of the movie, Keanu Reeves himself. His character is just normal, there’s nothing special about him even though the he is supposed to be special in the movie. I feel like they only cast Keanu Reeves so that this movie will get an audience. But I do appreciate Reeves’ involvement in this movie, I actually shed a manly tear because it’s been a long time since I’ve seen this guy in a movie. It’s just a heartwarming moment when I get to see this guy again. I’m gonna cry for a while.
Since this is a Japanese epic movie, most of the cast is Japanese. First we’ll talk about the main antagonists, Rinko Kikuchi and Tadanobu Asano. Rinko right now is mostly known for Pacific Rim, and I like her here better than Pacific Rim because her English is more understandable here, and she did one hell of a job in portraying a witch. You know, the bitchy witch? Yeah that one. Tadanobu Asano, portrays the secondary villain. Nothing really special about him but I really liked that he portrayed your typical evil jerk. Moreover these two villains really reminds me of the villains of The Wolverine, again.
Next is the deuteragonist, the samurai Oishi, portrayed by Hiroyuki Sanada, who also portrayed a secondary villain in The Wolverine (again!!). When I said that Keanu Reeves was only there to help promote the movie, I feel like I’m right because this guy is more of the protagonist instead of Reeves! Oishi and Kai do have a chemistry together, but I do feel like it’s lacking, I wish there was more time to have them develop their chemistry together.
The heroine of this movie, probably my favorite casting choice, is Mika, played by Ko Shibasaki. First of all, Ko Shibasaki is an extremely famous artist in Japan, and her debut in acting is as Mitsuko Souma in Battle Royale, the girl who killed the 2nd most students in the movie. This movie marks her Hollywood debut, and honestly, her performance is what makes me rooting for this movie to be a success. First of all, she is a really great actor, and I was shocked at how well she is able to speak English in the film. Her English, while it’s obvious that this is probably her first time, is so good that it’s even better than Rinko Kikuchi’s! Her Japanese accent is barely noticeable, at least on me, and she makes a perfect Hollywood debut. Seriously if you’re a fan of Battle Royale or her in general, watch this movie.
Also this movie surprised me by having a cast that I’ve seen many times. He is a minor character, but if you followed my blog, specifically the Kyoryuger reviews, you know who he is. He is none other than Masayuki Deai, who portrayed BoukenSilver in Boukenger and KyoryuGrey in Kyoryuger! I was really, really surprised when I saw him, and his English is good, and his acting as a humble man is really funny, considering that I typically saw him as a tough man. He was an extra in The Last Samurai, so I guess that’s why he’s here. But man, it’s really AWESOME to see a Toku actor, in your country’s big screen!!! Sadly he’s a minor character, he died early.
The film also has its flaws. The first is that being a Japanese history movie, part of the movie feels like learning history in school, it’s boring. Second is the misuse of the characters. You can see that the Zombie Boy is portrayed as one of the enemies thanks to the poster. But no, he only has one scene in the movie and it’s almost like a cameo, it’s forgettable! What the hell? He alone would make a great foe, but he was there for like, 5 minutes!
Overall, I am rooting for this movie because I love Japan and I can’t help but to think it will be an underrated movie. It’s not great but it’s unique in a way, and I hope this movie succeeds because I wanted them to see the potential new foreign Hollywood actors, like Ko Shibasaki for example. She made a great debut, I hope there will be some filmmaker that wanted to have her in their movie. I recommend this movie for a good time, but you know what? I greatly recommend this movie for Ubisoft, because this movie feels like a guide for Ubisoft to make a Japan-based Assassin’s Creed. Assassin’s Creed in Japan, come on!
Bottom line, I Paid 8 Dollars For THIS?!.