It occurs to me that while I talked about it when it was first announced, I haven’t said shit about the new 47 Ronin flick starring Keanu Reeves yet. Welp, this second trailer has dropped so now is as good a time as any to speak my mind.
To be honest, I’m not against casting a White guy or a half White/half Asian guy in a Japanese fantasy period piece. For once, I’m not going to complain about Whitewashing. I mean, they’ve got Mako Mori turning into a dragon. It’s clear they’re not going for historical accuracy by any stretch of the imagination. Also, Keanu’s father is hella Asian so I don’t think it’s appropriate to call him out for being just another “white” guy.
What infuriates me about this thing is that they’re pretending it’s based the actual revenge of the 47 Ronin which took place in 18th century Japan. The story has become legend and defines what it meant to be samurai. But unless you’re Japanese or a Japanese scholar or a Nihongofile or a GIGANTIC weeaboo, you wouldn’t have heard of the 47. It’s not a story that’s readily familiar to the target audience of the film. And those who are familiar with the tale will only be scratching their heads and wondering where the fuck the 48th samurai came from. Keanu isn’t even one of the 47!
I don’t see the benefit of tying this to something that so few audience members will have heard about. And if they look it up, they’ll be utterly confused, “I don’t see anything about a ‘half-breed’ (guh, that’s what they’re calling him in the film) saving the day.” It bears so little resemblance to the original tale that if it weren’t for the title or the line about there only being “47 of us,” I wouldn’t have figured it out.
It would be like a Japanese studio casting Odagiri Joe (why do you hate Kuuga, Joe? Why?!) as the hero of the American Revolution. What, that sounds absurd? Well it makes just as much sense as this fucking thing.
Just call it something different! You can have your literal dragon lady and your whitish hero and your flashy swords. Just call it something new! Hell, give your writers some credit. They clearly didn’t think the original story was interesting enough for a film so they wrote some new shit! If you believe in that new shit, show it off! Give it a fresh coat of paint and a new name and fuck it, I’ll promote the shit out of your weird looking movie.
The thing is, this looks like a fun little action movie. You got your demon looking armor guy walking through fire. You got Rinko Kikuchi turning into a dragon. You got some really cool looking creatures eating warriors. Were it not for the dubious title, I think I would actually see this in the theater.