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Joe Ricard
12-26-2013, 07:19 AM
Meh, is my feeling about the whole movie. It was just OK. But then there was the Sword fighting that was sort of disappointing. Seemed to me like broad sword technique rather than what one expect from Samurai using Katana. and bokken that were unusually long.

Nowhere near the level of "The Last Samurai".

Cady Goldfield
12-26-2013, 09:57 AM
With all due respect for Reeves -- as well as Tom Cruise, Rutger Hauer, and all the others who have found themselves collecting a paycheck for playing samurai characters -- as likeable actors, I have a special "meh" spot in my heart for Japanese-styled movies that feature a non-Japanese actor playing a samurai. Especially when that character is interjected into an actual historic tale, as in "Ronin."

Demetrio Cereijo
12-26-2013, 10:41 AM
Nowhere near the level of "The Last Samurai".
So this 47 Ronin it is as bad as it looks.

lbb
12-26-2013, 11:31 AM
I think the reasoning behind the casting of Keanu Reeves is transparent and cringe-worthy. All the "but it's a FANTASY!!!" claims by apologists don't change that.

aiki-jujutsuka
12-26-2013, 05:34 PM
I concur, an alright fantasy film but no where near the level of the Last Samurai. It was Hollywood at its best - the real story of the 47 Ronin was only the kernel of inspiration that Hollywood then embellished and mythologized for their own entertainment purposes. Personally I would have found an historical drama far more entertaining.

Keanu is as Keanu always was, although I think Hollywood do well to put him in roles where he either doesn`t need to show emotion or has a reason for why he isn`t more expressive. In the 47 Ronin he is ostracised and browbeaten into inferiority by the Samurai for being only half Japanese and not of pure blood.

One of the most awkward things about the film is that there in no Japanese dialogue - despite the story being set in Feudal Japan, and despite the Japanese cast (bar Keanu), the film was entirely in English. It jarred with me throughout the whole film. At least the Last Samurai tried to be historical despite being fictional.

Peter Goldsbury
12-26-2013, 08:04 PM
With all due respect for Reeves -- as well as Tom Cruise, Rutger Hauer, and all the others who have found themselves collecting a paycheck for playing samurai characters -- as likeable actors, I have a special "meh" spot in my heart for Japanese-styled movies that feature a non-Japanese actor playing a samurai. Especially when that character is interjected into an actual historic tale, as in "Ronin."

Hello Cady,

I used The Last Samurai in one of my classes here. Students had to compare it with Dances with Wolves. I used the longer version of Dances with Wolves, but, of course, the common point is how one deals with cross-cultural issues, especially friendships across cultures. In previous classes I had students compare Dances with Wolves with the director's cut version of Avatar. This longer version contains some interesting plot details omitted in the theatrical version.

I was surprised at the speed with which Algren acquires fluency in Japanese and also expertise in kenjutsu. I would watch 47 Ronin to see how Hiroyuki Sanada deals with his role and would probably use this film, rather than Dances with Wolves, in my classes here. However, I am looking forward to seeing Sanada in The Railway Man, when it opens here in April next year. This is another film dealing with cross-cultural issues that are of more contemporary relevance than 47 Ronin.

Happy New Year.

Cady Goldfield
12-26-2013, 11:31 PM
Hello Peter,

The placement of Euro or Euro-American character as transplant into another culture has been a mainstay of Hollywood for some time. The formula is always the same, with minor variations: a member of the colonizing/conquering force, by some accident of fate, finds himself among the conquered (or the enemy), gets his comeuppance and an adjustment in his superior attitude, goes native by degrees, and marries the chief's/samurai's/warrior king's daughter (or sister), thus making his assimilation complete. Of course, in "Avatar," he also gets a new body to better fit into the local culture...

As for "The Last Samurai": In addition to the amazing speed at which Algren (Cruise) gained fluency in Japanese, skill at kenjutsu, and acceptance within the samurai's (Ken Watanabe's character's) household, I was flummoxed by the scene in which the samurai's sister worked in that muddy garden patch without getting even a speck of dirt on her silk kimono, nor on her geta...

aiki-jujutsuka
12-27-2013, 12:02 AM
I`m no film student but I always thought the placement of Euro-American characters into foreign cultures or stories was a device used to help Western audiences relate more to the film`s themes and storylines? Some movie goers may be put off or feel disorientated if a historical drama was done absolutely historically faultlessly about a culture and people they don`t understand or have very little knowledge of. That at least makes sense to my mind, but I could be wrong?

Malicat
12-27-2013, 07:37 AM
I`m no film student but I always thought the placement of Euro-American characters into foreign cultures or stories was a device used to help Western audiences relate more to the film`s themes and storylines? Some movie goers may be put off or feel disorientated if a historical drama was done absolutely historically faultlessly about a culture and people they don`t understand or have very little knowledge of. That at least makes sense to my mind, but I could be wrong?

That is the argument Ewen, but it's a poor one. Look at the success of Crouching Tiger for the answer to that particular argument. The ugly truth is that film studios want stars that will pull in audiences, or they want to find the next *big* thing, and overwhelmingly they choose white actors for those next big thing parts, which means that most of the big money draws are all also white. I would put Michelle Rodriguez's acting skill against someone like Megan Fox any day of the week, but Fox is the one making millions.

--Ashley

Cady Goldfield
12-27-2013, 10:31 AM
The one movie that (in my opinion) was a good fit between "outsider" and "adopted culture," was "Little Big Man," released in 1970. Some of the scenes in that film are still graphically etched in my mind's eye to this day. Particularly the one where the character played by Chief Dan George decides it's his day to die... :)

Keith Larman
12-27-2013, 10:53 AM
They're big, corporate sponsored movies. Yeah, sometimes the writers and directors have artistic ambitions, but... They're still big, corporate sponsored movies for the masses.

Art? Nope. Try the latest Cohen brothers movie if you want something a bit more artistic. They're out there. Heck, lots of good movies out at the moment, just none with advertising budgets playing in your local gazzillionplex. Shrug.

This coming from a guy with lots of friends in the movie biz. It is a business. A very big, expensive business. Heck, they were filming something down the street last week. I counted over 8 large trailer trucks, 3 food trucks, I don't know how many smaller box trucks. And it turns out it was just for a pilot. Meaning it may never see the light of day. And a few years ago the kid's soccer team was tapped to do a day of shooting for a 1 minute sequence of another pilot. Literally hundreds of people. Teachers there to make sure the kids had school for the day. Food everywhere. Food trucks everywhere (all paid for). Makeup, cameras, props, etc. And from what I heard they ended up reshooting the entire scene differently a few months later with one of the producer's kid's soccer team. And the pilot was never even aired...

In other words... It's a big business. Tons of money. Tons wasted. But tons made when something hits. So movies like Crouching Tiger are the exceptions to the rule. Rare. Most are like Last Samurai (why do the swords have to "schwiiiinnnnnnng" when drawn?). Heck, I was asked about redoing handles for one of the star's sword -- I assume Watanabe from how it was asked. They actually wanted top notch wraps for all the major props -- I forget the number but after I stopped laughing I passed. The issue wasn't money but it was do a whole lot of them by yesterday. They wanted quality and "right now". Which is why they had crappy wraps on their swords... But... It's a big, corporate movie.

lbb
12-27-2013, 11:00 AM
I'm with Ashley. The makers of these movies are making decisions based on their assessment of their target audience, which is the googleplex crowd. I don't think there's really a question of whether there's racism, only if it's direct ("We just can't imagine the audience liking/identifying with a Japanese lead actor") or indirect ("We need a recognized actor, and there aren't any Japanese actors that the American public will recognize...cuz why...").

Cady Goldfield
12-27-2013, 11:11 AM
Keith, swords have to "Schwiiiing!" when they're drawn for the same reason there must be swelling symphonic music in the background when a dramatic moment is occurring... Movies are a sensory experience, but we have only sight and sound (well, sometimes a certain amount of "touch" when there's "Sensaround," and "smell" when there's "Smellovision"), so those available sensory aspects are exaggerated to heighten our experience.

Andrew S
12-29-2013, 04:00 PM
For me, it gets put in the same drawer as The Last Samurai, and the remakes of Sanjuro and The Hidden Fortress:
Movies I'll never watch.

sakumeikan
12-30-2013, 01:19 AM
Hi all,
Nothing new about Hollywood casting non Asian actors in pictures/tv.David Carradine,[Kung Fu] Peter Lorre [Mr Moto] Warner Baxter, Sydney Toler, Petr Ustinov [all played Charlie Chan.
My own view is the remake of Japanese movies such as Joyimbo,are much bettr than the Hollywood stuff.I have not seen the 47 Ronin, but I can imagine Keanu Reeves input.He is very limited in acting skills.to say the least.Where does Hollywood stand in comparison with films such as Red Beard, Kagemusha, Dreams??
Tom Cruise [Last Samurai ] was watchable .Ken Watanabe when he was onscreen blew Mr Cruise away.
BEST REGARDS TO ALL FOR 2014. CHEERS , Joe.