The New Year begins with a cracker as we join Keanu Reeves as Kai, a half-breed outcast in the ancient Japanese world of the Samurai.
Found abandoned in the forest, Kai is taken in and raised by Lord Asano, much to the annoyance of his feared and devoted Samurai but his daughter Mika seems taken with the unusual boy.
Years later Lord Asano falls victim to witchcraft and treachery which leads to the imprisonment of his chief Samurai Oishi and the disbandment of the troop. On his release he vows vengeance and first seeks the help of the mysterious Kai before re-assembling his men and embarking on a quest that will most likely cost them their lives.
Spectacular martial-arts mixed with cool special effects make this a visual treat and the fantasy aspects of the tale weave into the more traditional elements effortlessly. You will believe in The Demons of The Forest and in a shape-shifting Witch.
The film is perhaps more suited to a proper Asian cinema release with subtitles for us English speaking folk but the Hollywood studio has to be admired for giving a totally Japanese story the full Stateside treatment while retaining the appropriate levels of integrity.
47 Ronin is an absolute must-see for fans of Asian cinema and martial-arts movies in general. Catch it in cinemas now.
Ric’s Rating: Essential.