Where I Watched it: Netflix
English Audio Description?: Yes
This. this film is why I watched Keanu Reeve’s 47 Ronin after nine years of it existing. Just a day on Netflix, and I’m out there finally inspired to watch a film with a 200 million dollar budget just so I can better understand a straight to video sequel with no returning cast members, no budget, and not a single fuck given.
Eraser Reborn took a long ass time between the first and second, so long that the second just copies very formulaically, and poorly, the original. This one, it decides instead to just kind of acknowledge that the first film existed, and use it more as a Genesis chapter in the 47 Ronin saga. Instead of needing a budget to shoot a period piece, they leap to present day, where it’s quite possible actors just wore their own clothes, and made a plot that feels like this could have been the logical progression of this franchise, if they had made far more than two films.
We now exist in our time, and someone is trying to kill all remaining ancestors of the 47 Ronin. The magic introduced by the original is already assumed you know how it works, because it just comes right at you here. No explanation of how or why, they know that the only people interested in this had to have seen the original. After the bad guy dispatches what he believes is the last, he realizes (because I guess he can feel the existence) that there is one more.
This leads to the rather hilarious shitfest I enjoyed with most of my heart. Like, I can recognize that this is not a good film. But, I was entertained. There are reasons for this. The fist film took itself so seriously, without any levity. This film breaks that mold by having the last survivor be this sarcastic apathetic young woman who just cannot be bothered. You know that girl who works in the department store, and you need help, but she just is not coming to help you? She probably worked that job.
She hits her protectors and the audience with these hilarious self aware quips, like she’s in on the joke that this film is shit, and wants the audience to know that she knows. But what makes it work is that no one else knows. The rest of the cast around her all take their cues super duper seriously, even if the action required is absurd. This film loves decapitating people, by the way. Just, loves it.
So having your female lead have zero interest in the plot, zero interest in being the last of the descendants of the Ronin, to have zero interest in learning how to do anything or understanding this culture that’s been thrust upon her is what makes this film work so very very well in the worst of ways.
I repeat. This is not a good film. What this is, what we have here, is a good bad film. It’s a film that doesn’t know it sucks, but seems to be written in such a manner that you can’t help but be entertained by it. Snakes On A plane did it on purpose, this one seems to have a sprinkle of on purpose wrapped up in this low budget sequel no one asked for. There’s even a 47 Ronin rap song right in the middle of the film. I want so desperately to e able to vote for Original Song awards this year, because I’d be nominating the hel out of that.
While the grade is higher than the original, you need to understand they are two wildly different films. 47 Ronin takes itself very seriously, and attempts to pay tribute to Japanese culture and history in an interesting way. Blade Of The 47 Ronin says fuck it, moves everything to America, drops the entirely Japanese cast, replaces them with a whiter more diverse cast, and spends the film decapitating as many people as possible.
This film has audio description, and it does help with the action sequences and the times they use magic. I actually was watching this film at work, didn’t realize how close to the end of the film I was, and when I took my headphones off to answer a question I thought would take way less time than it did, Netflix was already in an advertisement for a different program. So, I don’t know who did the narration for this. I’m sure it’s not the first thing on anyone’s resume, but work is work. AD is AD. You gotta get things done. If someone is going to make a sequel to 47 Ronin, for inexplicable reasons, we gotta get AD for it.
If you like good bad films, this one works quite well in that regard.
Final Grade: B- (Yeah, I know.)