Sunday, July 27, 2014

Review: 47 Ronin (2013)

47 Ronin is the story of samurai who became leaderless (ronin) after their master was obliged to kill himself honorably in a ritual (seppuku) after he had physically attacked an important official. The ronin planned to avenge their master's disgrace and were successful in killing the man who had shamed their master.  After taking revenge, the ronin surrendered to the shogunate authorities, who decided that the ronin were following bushido, the samurai military code. Instead of being executed as criminals, the ronin (restored as samurai) were allowed to perform seppuku.

The theme was very powerful and dramatic. Although I am not, in any way, a fan of ritual suicide because of its violence (or of any other form of suicide), I could see the beauty in having an honorable death: dying on one's own terms, with head held high. There's no shame, within its cultural context, of ending one's life this way. In fact, it could appear as a brave way to go.

However, the movie, I feel, did not have the emotional pull needed to give justice to such a powerful part of the Japanese culture. It was, at its core, a love story after all. Yes, it was a movie about protecting one's honor... but somehow, the love story between the outcast and the damsel in distress was a distraction. I would have loved to see more character development of the outcast in the hands of the ronin... or maybe more emotional depth in the story of the outcast and the girl. I mean, the emotional turmoil of reserved and faceless women blending in the background, was palpable in The Last Samurai. The 47 Ronin version just didn't seem to have that anchor.

Anyway, what made this movie memorable to me was the date when I've seen it. By lucky timing or some weird force of nature, my friends and I got together to watch it on January 30 (after I've had dinner at Yakimix in Alabang Town Center and they had pizza at Sicilysimo in Festival Supermall). This date is regarded as the anniversary of the ronin's vengeful attack on the official. 

Goosebumps all around!!