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Carl Rinsch
Keanu Reeves, Hiroyuki Sanada, Ko Shibasaki
Writing Credits:
Chris Morgan, Hossein Amini

A band of samurai set out to avenge the death and dishonor of their master at the hands of a ruthless shogun.

Box Office:
$175 million.
Opening Weekend
$9,910,310 on 2,689 Screens
Domestic Gross

Rated PG-13.

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English DVS
Spanish DTS 5.1
French DTS 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 119 min.
Price: $14.98
Release Date: 4/1/2014

• Both 2D and 3D Versions
• Deleted Scenes
• “Re-forging the Legend” Featurette
• “Keanu & Kai” Featurette
• “Steel Fury” Featurette
• “Myths, Magic and Monsters” Featurette
• Previews
• DVD Copy


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


47 Ronin [Blu-Ray 3D] (2013)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 30, 2020)

Though he’s enjoyed a resurgence in recent years, Keanu Reeves spent a fair amount of time in the Hollywood wasteland ever since the Matrix franchise wrapped up in 2003. For about 15 years, he seemed to pop up every once in a while, make an unsuccessful movie and then disappear again.

Such was the fate of 2013’s 47 Ronin, Reeves’ first effort in the action/fantasy genre since 2008’s disappointing The Day the Earth Stood Still. With a huge $175 million budget, Ronin became easily the most expensive film in Reeves’ history, but it didn’t do much at the box office – at least in the US, where Ronin pulled in a poor $38 million.

It fared better overseas, but with a total worldwide gross of only $148 million, it clearly lost money.

Set in feudal Japan, Ronin mixes history and fantasy. As a youngster, half-Japanese/half-British outsider Kai (Daniel Barber) gets taken in and raised by Lord Asano (Min Tanaka) of the realm Ako. Kai falls in love with Asano’s daughter Mika (Aria Maekawa) and pledges to repay his debt to his benefactors.

As an adult, Kai (Reeves) continues to serve Asano despite the continual animosity he receives from those who resent the “half-breed’s” presence. Nonetheless, he shows his skills as a talented warrior, one with a connection to a magical side as well. He also maintains a love for Mika (Ko Shibasaki) but does nothing about this because he feels she is above him.

To celebrate the arrival of shoguns to the realm, Asano plans a tournament, and Kai sees a witch he believes he witnessed during the earlier fight. His warnings go unheeded, though, and the spellcaster (Rinko Kikuchi) poisons the warrior intended to represent Ako. In disguise, Kai takes his place but this doesn’t go well and Kai brings shame to Asano.

Matters get worse from there, as visiting Lord Kira (Tadanobu Asano) uses the witch to infect Asano. In the midst of this spell, he harms a guest and must commit ritual suicide to redeem his honor. This leaves his lieutenant Oichi (Hiroyuki Sanada) to defend both Ako and Mika.

However, authorities place Kira in command of Ako and the new leader tosses Oishi into a pit for a year. When he emerges, he finds that all his soldiers have left Ako, and Kira’s men sold Kai into slavery. Oishi goes to find the “half-breed”, rebuild an army and reclaim Ako from the evil Kira.

Over the last 20 years, I’ve written thousands of reviews, and these flow most easily if I love or hate the project involved. When I focus on an extreme, I can dig into my opinions most naturally, as they emerge without much difficulty.

This makes my worst predicament the “meh movie”, the film that doesn’t impress me much but also that doesn’t come with terrible flaws. How much can one say about a flick that seems perfectly okay and that’s about it?

I guess we’ll find out, as this is the situation into which Ronin places me. For the most part, the film earned poor reviews, and I admit I don’t quite understand all that animosity. Some movies beg for derision, but I don’t see that here, as at its very worst, Ronin remains serviceable.

Unfortunately, at its best, Ronin fails to rise above that same level of mediocrity. That’s a shame, as the basic story comes with obvious worth. Based on a famous Japanese legend, the narrative boasts plenty of room for drama and adventure if told the right way.

Ronin just can’t muster a whole lot of energy, though, as it provides a slow, sleepy take on the subject. The characters fail to develop much personality and remain fairly one-dimensional.

Of course, that probably suits Reeves just fine, as his notoriously unemotional acting style fits the stoic Kai, but since most of the others show a similar lack of oomph, the movie tends to fall flat.

Ronin also comes with a less than authentic feel. Do filmmakers need to belong to a specific ethnicity if they make movies about that group? No – talented folks can create good flicks about anyone, so the absence of Japanese directors or writers didn’t need to become a fatal flaw.

That said, director Carl Rinsch and writers Chris Morgan and Hossein Amini don’t show much natural affinity for the material. Ronin feels like a samurai story told by guys who’d seen a bunch of those movies, not those with any real feel for the subject matter.

Again, this doesn’t mean Ronin required Japanese filmmakers for it to work, but it did need folks with a greater level of skill to overcome potential flaws.

I admit I don’t particularly understand the decision to involve the supernatural elements in the story. Obviously these don’t fit the historical account, and they add next to nothing to the tale.

The basic narrative boasts more than enough drama to entertain us. The addition of witches and magic becomes a distraction more than anything else.

Not that any of this turns Ronin into a bad movie. As I mentioned at the start, it keeps us moderately entertained as it goes. However, the film simply lacks enough energy and spark to make it anything more than mediocre.

The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio B+/ Bonus C-

47 Ronin appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. For the most part, the image satisfied.

A bit of softness crept into the presentation at times, but it felt like some of that resulted from an intentionally dreamy look to the photography. Those instances didn’t dominate, though, so the majority of the film appeared accurate and concise.

I saw no signs of jagged edges or shimmering, and edge enhancement seemed absent. Print flaws also never reared their ugly head, as the movie looked clean at all times.

Given that airy photographic design, tans and reds often dominated. Some brighter hues appeared at times, but those were the main colors, and they remained low-key. Within those choices, the hues appeared well-rendered.

Blacks seemed dense and firm, but shadows could be a little thick; a few shots seemed just a bit too dark. All of this left Ronin as a “B” presentation.

As for the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of 47 Ronin, it worked well, as the movie presented a fairly engaging soundfield. Not surprisingly, its best moments related to the mix of action scenes. These helped open up the spectrum pretty nicely.

Otherwise, we got good stereo impressions from the music along with solid environmental material. The latter reverberated in the rear speakers to positive effect, and some unique action material popped up there as well.

No problems with audio quality occurred. Speech was always concise and natural, and I noticed no edginess or other concerns. Music seemed bright and lively.

Effects showed good distinctiveness, and they offered nice low-end when appropriate. All of this created a strong sonic impression that made the movie more involving.

This package includes both 2D and 3D versions of Ronin. The picture comments above relate to the 2D edition – how does the 3D compare?

Visual quality felt similar. I thought colors, sharpness and other elements seemed close in both editions, so I experienced no obvious picture degradation with the 3D film.

As for the 3D presentation, it became a disappointment. The movie came with a passable sense of depth, and occasional action scenes brought out some reasonable use of the stereo visuals, especially when supernatural content occurred.

However, most of Ronin remained “2.5D”. While we got some dimensionality and the occasional lively 3D shot, too much of the flick seemed fairly flat.

Although I can’t recommend fans of the film to avoid the 3D presentation, I also can’t find many compelling reasons to advocate for it. This became a pretty mediocre 3D image.

When we head to extras, we open with four featurettes. Re-forging the Legend goes for six minutes, 44 seconds and offers comments from director Carl Rinsch, producer Pamela Abdy, costume designer Penny Rose, visual effects supervisor Christian Manz, supervising art director Gary Freeman and actors Keanu Reeves and Hiroyuki Sanada.

The program looks at the source story and its adaptation, costume and production design, sets, locations and effects, stunts and action, cast and performances, and general thoughts. “Legend” covers a good variety of subjects but does so in a superficial way. It breezes through the topics quickly and lacks substance.

For a little about the actor, we go to Keanu & Kai. It runs four minutes and provides info from Reeves, Rinsch, Abdy, producer Eric McLeod and actor Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa. The show looks at Reeves’ role and performance. Expect a lot of praise and fluff.

Steel Fury: The Fights of 47 Ronin lasts five minutes, 54 seconds and features Rinsch, Reeves, Sanada, stunt coordinator Gary Powell, co-writer Chris Morgan and actor Neil Fingleton. As expected, “Fury” discusses the movies stunts and action. This never becomes especially insightful, but it throws out a few good notes and becomes a decent piece.

Finally, we get the seven-minute, 35-second Myths, Magic and Monsters: The FX of 47 Ronin. It boasts notes from Rinsch, Morgan, Manz, Powell, Reeves, Fingleton, Abdy, stunt rider Dauren Zhunussov, prosthetic makeup artist Barrie Gower, and visual effects producer Garv Thorp.

To the surprise of no one, “Magic” covers the various effects used in Ronin. It follows the template from “Fury”, so expect a reasonable exploration of the subject matter.

Four Deleted Scenes occupy a total of seven minutes, 45 seconds and give us “Mika Regrets Her Love for Kai” (1:43), “Mika Attempts to Poison Lord Kira” (1:13), “Oishi Attempts to Buy Kai from the Dutch Captain” (2:40) and “Isogai Is Entranced By the Witch” (1:09). These offer minor character moments that do little to embellish material already in the final film.

The 2D disc opens with ads for Lone Survivor, Sabotage, Boxtrolls and Ride Along.

Previews also includes promos for Oblivion, Battleship, the Jurassic Park trilogy, Battlestar Galactica and The Bourne Legacy.

The 3D disc includes a promo for Sanctum 3D. No trailer for Ronin appears – either 2D or 3D.

With 47 Ronin, we get a competent telling of an epic adventure. This becomes enough to keep us moderately entertained but the movie never lives up to its potential. The Blu-ray brings us good picture and audio as well as a few minor bonus materials. This remains a mediocre movie, and the bland 3D presentation doesn’t improve it.

To rate this film, visit the prior review of 47 RONIN

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main