Tagged: Hiroyuki Sanada

47 Ronin

Summary: An 18th century set story centered on a band of samurai who set out to avenge the death of their master.

Year: 2014

Australian Cinema Release Date: 16th January, 2014

Australian DVD Release Date: TBA

Country: USA

Director: Carl Rinsch

Screenwriter: Chris Morgan, Hossein Amini, Walter Hamada

Cast: Jin Akanishi (Chikara), Tadanobu Asano (Lord Kira), Daniel Barber (Teen Kai), Ron Bottitta (Narrator), Masayuki Deai (Isogai), Masayyoshi Haneda (Yasuno), Rinko Kikuchi (Witch), Natsuki Kunimoto (Riku), Aria Maekawa (Teen Mika), Yuriri Naka (Iku), Shu Nakakima (Horibe), Keanu Reeves (Kai), Hiroyuki Sanada (Oishi), Manato Sekiguchi (Young Oishi), Ko Shibasaki (Mika), Hiroshi Sogabe (Hazama), Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (Shogun Tsunayoshi), Min Tanaka (Lord Asano), Hiroshi Yamada (Hara), Takato Yonemoto (Basho)

Runtime: 119 mins



David Griffiths:

Sometimes when you read other people’s reviews you wonder if they have seen the same film as you. There have been some reviewers that have savaged director Carl Rinsch’s debut feature film “47 Ronin.” These savage reviews have sunk the film and to date it has only made back $36 million of the $175 million it cost to make.

After viewing the film it’s hard to work out why the critic’s claws were out so hastily. Sure this film isn’t a masterpiece but it’s certainly not the dog you would expect from reading some of the early reviews. In fact if you have a bit of a love for Asian cinema you would certainly describe this film as passable.

Based loosely (and I should say very loosely) on a Japanese legend “47 Ronin” centres around Kai (Keanue Reeves) a half breed demon cross human who serves his Lord Asano (Min Tanaka) with as much bravery and honor as the other samurais but is never accepted by them. In fact many, including the leader Oishi (Hiroyuki Sanad), despise and do not trust him. The only person who shows any kindness towards Kai is the beautiful princess Mika (Ko Shibasak) who has romantic feelings for him.

The whole land whoever finds itself in upheaval after the evil Lord Kira (Tadanobu Asano) and his concubine witch act out a plot that sees Lord Asano put to death by a Shogun who has been blinded by the treachery. Soon, despite warnings not to, Oishi decides to avenge the death of his Lord in order to free the people and rescue Mika. But the only way to do that is to put his feelings aside and work with Kai.

As far as story and action goes the film works. A lot of the violence that you would normally expect in a samurai film has been toned down to give the film a lower classification but there is never a point during the film when you feel yourself getting bored or getting angry. In fact the story does draw you in, you like Kai (despite the fact that he never manages to crack a smile during the film) and as a result you want to see him achieve his goals. In a lot of ways “47 Ronin” is your traditional guy-needs-to-kill-the-evil-to-get-the-girl story, and that is a form of storytelling that has served writers well for thousands of years now.

Despite its entertainment value though there is one glaring thing that holds back “47 Ronin” completely – and that is the fact that it has been so Americanised. It seems strange when you think that this story is a Japanese legend that a white American actor has the lead, so when you dig a little deeper into the legend you find out that the character of Kai was not the lead in the original legend, that role actually went to Oishi. It does seem a little disrespectful to change a culturial story just so an American actor can be cast in the film. Some reviewers may have thought that the fantasy element of the film dragged it down, that’s not the fact though, the only thing that does that is the lame attempt to Americanise the film.

Speaking of that American lead Keanu Reeves doesn’t do a lot wrong. Sure he’s no Tom Cruise in “The Last Samurai” but he has his pouts and angry looks down to a tee, while his dishevelled look makes him look a lot like former Australian tennis player Pat Rafter. While Reeves was good he is out heroed by Hiroyuki Sanada who backs up his recent great performance in “The Railway Man” with a good action hero performance. He is certainly a lot better than some of the Asian actors who struggle to match the skills of their leads.

“47 Ronin” may have its odd clichéd moments and of course doesn’t look as good as a Peter Jackson epic but this is still a decent action film that certainly won’t disappoint those that like a good samurai film.


Average Subculture Rating (out of 5): Stars(2.5)

IMDB Rating:  47 Ronin (2013) on IMDb

Other Subculture Media Reviews of ‘47 Ronin′: Please check The Good The Bad The Ugly Film Show Ep #65 for our full 47 Ronin review.


Django Unchained

Well the sun has set on another year in cinema land. Films came, films went. Some exceeded expectations, others went away quickly never to be watched again. But if you are looking for the cream of the crop in 2013, then these are this writer’s favorite ten films.

“Django Unchained” – This is a borderline film for most people’s Top Ten lists this year. In some countries it opened in 2012, in other countries it opened in January 2013, so let’s call it a 2013 film. “Django Unchained” was director/screenwriter Quentin Tarantino at his absolute best. The script sizzled with great one liners and brilliant characterization and while the film did lapse a little (incidentally at about the time that Tarantino himself appeared on the screen), the film did more than enough to be one of this year’s best films. As if the script wasn’t enough to win you over, you then have some marvellous performances by Leonardo DiCaprio and Samuel L. Jackson that make this film a must see.

“The Way Way Back” – Every now and then a coming-of-age film comes along that reminds you just how good this genre can be when it is done the right way. Directors Nat Faxon and Jim Rash certainly go the formula right when they put together “The Way Way Back.” The film saw Steve Carell play one of the best against-type roles of all time as he played the emotional abusive father of Duncan (Liam James) while Sam Rockwell put in one of the finest performances of his career as he played the fun-loving owner of a water theme park. If you didn’t get to see “The Way Way Back” when it hit cinemas make sure you check it out when it reaches shelves on DVD.

“Mud” – There was a time when actor Matthew McConaughey was considered a joke. He acted in poorly written romantic comedies that used him more for his looks rather than acting ability. As a result people started to believe that McConaughey was a poor actor, but he turned that around with some great performances in “Bernie” and “Magic Mike.” 2013 saw McConaughey deliver another powerful performance in “Mud,” a small-time drama in which he plays an escaped convict using an island as a hideaway who uses two local boys Ellis (Tye Sheridan) and Neckbone (Jacob Lofland) to help him escape. Director, Jeff Nichols, manages to make this drama an intense thriller by drawing the audience in and making them wonder exactly what Mud is hiding or willing to do in his escape.

“Rust And Bone” – When people talk about some of the acting performances of 2013, it is surprising how many people seem to skip right over Marion Cotillard’s performance in French film “Rust And Bone.” In what is at times a harrowing film Cotillard plays Stephanie, a young woman who loses her legs in an accident involving a killer whale at the marine park at which she works. In an extraordinary piece of screenwriting, Stephanie’s life is completely turned upside down when she meets Alain (Matthias Schoenaerts), an out-of-luck guy who loves to get involved in backyard fights. “Rust And Bone” may have been a gritty drama, but it is also one of the most intense romances to have surfaced in 2013, making it one of the most underrated films of the year.

“Prisoners” – One of the biggest surprises of this year has been the fact that when all the talk of Oscar nominations has been circulating, the film “Prisoners” hasn’t been getting more love. To be blunt “Prisoners” is one of the best crime thrillers to have surfaced since “Silence Of The Lambs.” Director, Denis Villeneuve makes this an intense thriller that sees Australian Hugh Jackman play Keller Dover a father who is pushed to the absolute extreme when his daughter goes missing along with her friend. Out-acting Jackman, just, is Jake Gyllenhaal who plays one of the most intriguing script cops of all time in Detective Loki. This is one crime thriller that will keep you guessing until the very end.

“Flight” – With “Flight,” cinema goers walked into the cinema expecting to see another disaster film. Denzel Washington would play a pilot who had to save a plane load of people as something went wrong … it would be a simple film right? Director, Robert Zameckis surprised everyone by delivering a film that opened with pilot, Whip Whitaker (Washington) snorting cocaine and drinking before boarding a flight. The film then became a well-written thriller after the plane crashes and the investigation tries to work out whether Whip is a hero or a villain. Sensational writing and a great performance by Washington makes for one hell of a film.

“The Paperboy” – One of the other big surprises of 2013 was the film “The Paperboy.” Zac Efron doesn’t normally spell one of the films of the year but this time the young actor really delivered. Efron plays Jack Jansen, a young boy that works at his father’s local newspaper who teams up with his older brother Ward (Matthew McConaughey) who is a journalist working on a racial murder case. Director, Lee Daniels, gets the absolute best out of his cast. Efron and McConaughey are sensational and are well supported by Nicole Kidman and John Cusack, who both act against type remarkably well.

“Broken” – Just when it looked like it was going to be a lean year for British films along came “Broken.” Directed by Rufus Norris “Broken” was a nasty little film that showed British society at its absolute worst. Told through the eyes of a young girl named Skunk (Eloise Laurence), “Broken” tells the story of the violent events that occur at the end of what should be quite English street. From a man who accused of being a sexual monster, to a broken marriage that is affecting some young children and a father who simply cannot cope any more, this is a film where the audience is left wondering who (if anyone) is going to be left emotionally okay (or even alive) by the final credits. “Broken” is British drama at its best.

“What Maisie Knew” – Another surprisingly good film for 2013. On the surface “What Maisie Knew” looked like it would be a film that should be on the Hallmark channel. Instead it became a gritty drama told through the eyes of a young girl named Maisie (Onata Aprile). This young girl becomes the victim of a bitter custody battle between her washed up rock star mother, Susanna (Julianne Moore), and her proud art-dealing Dad, Beale (Steve Coogan). The film had the power to emotionally affect anybody watching it as it soon becomes painfully plain that neither parents want the girl; they just don’t want their ex-partner to have her. “What Maisie Knew” delivers one of the most emotional scripts of the year.

“The Railway Man” – Rounding out the top ten is a late contender with the Australian/British co-production “The Railway Man.” Over the years a lot of filmmakers have told the story of how men cope when they return from war. Few, however, have focused on a story where a victim returns and faces the man who tortured them. Based on a hit novel, “The Railway Man” centers around Eric Lomax (Colin Firth), a man whose war demons come to the surface after he has married Patricia Wallace (Nicole Kidman). As the ghosts who have haunted him since he was a POW forced to work on the Thai Burma Railway come to the fore, Patricia inspires him to return to the scene of the crime, unaware that it will result in a tense standoff with Nagase (Hiroyuki Sanada). The scenes of the two men confronting each other made for some of the best cinematic moments of 2013.

It would be neglectful not to also mention the following films when talking about the best films of 2013. Also worth a look is “Thanks For Sharing” (with a surprisingly good performance by Pink), “Lygon Street: Si Parla Italiano,” “West Memphis Three,” “Trance,” “A Place Beyond The Pines,” “Performance (A Late Quartet),” “Silver Linings Playbook,” “Compliance,” “The Impossible,” “Warm Bodies” and “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints.”

Now that 2013 is out of the way, it is time to wait and see what new gems film lovers can uncover in 2014. Bring it on!

The Wolverine

Summary: Based on the celebrated comic book arc, this epic action-adventure takes Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), the most iconic character of the X-Men universe, to modern-day Japan. Out of his depth in an unknown world, he will face a host of unexpected and deadly opponents in a life-or-death battle that will leave him forever changed. Vulnerable for the first time and pushed to his physical and emotional limits, he confronts not only lethal samurai steel but also his inner struggle against his own immortality.

Year: 2013

Australian Cinema Release Date: 25th July, 2013

Australian DVD Release Date: TBA

Country: USA, Australia

Director: James Mangold

Screenwriter: Mark Bomback, Scott Frank

Cast: Rila Fukushimia (Yukio), Hugh Jackman (Logan/Wolverine), Famke Janssen (Dr. Jean Grey), Svetlana Khodchenkova (Viper), Kimi (Saki), Qyoko Kudo (Aya), Ryuta Kimura (Hitoshi), Yaeko Kimura (Mieko), Will Yun Lee (Harada), Keiki Matsumoto (Shizu), Ian McKellan (Magneto), Tao Okamoto (Mariko), Hiroyuki Sanada (Shingen), Patrick Stewart (Charles Xavier), Brian Tee (Noburo), Hal Yamamura (Yashida), Ken Yamamura (Young Yashida)

Runtime: 126 mins



David Griffiths:Stars(3) 

Please check Dave’s review of ‘The Wolverine’ that is available on The Helium Entertainment Channel

Greg King: Stars(3)

Please check Greg’s review of ‘The Wolverine’ that is available on Episode 42 of The Good The Bad The Ugly Film Show

Nick Gardener: Stars(2.5)

Please check Nicks’s review of ‘The Wolverine’ that is available on Episode 42 of The Good The Bad The Ugly Film Show

Average Subculture Rating (out of 5): Stars(3)

IMDB Rating:  The Wolverine (2013) on IMDb

Other Subculture Media Reviews of ‘The Wolverine′: Please check Episode #42 of The Good The Bad The Ugly Film Show for more reviews of ‘The Wolverine’.