Hollywood is doing a big budget version of the Forty-seven Ronin, a famous historic incident of samurai honour , loyalty, and revenge. The big screen version seems different.
While there really were forty-seven ronin that lived in the 18th century, the movie's set "in a world of witches and giants". According to Variety, it will mix "fantasy elements of the sort seen in The Lord of the Rings pics, with gritty battle scenes akin to those in films such as Gladiator." Oh. OK.
One redeeming factor is that the film's producers have signed on Japanese actors, such as Tadanobu Asano, Kou Shibasaki, Jin Akanishi, Hiroyuki Sanada, and Rinko Kikuchi.
That being said, when you say "Forty-seven Ronin", people probably think of something closer to the 1962 Toshiro Mifune film Chushingura, or what iconic filmmaker Kinji Fukasaku brought to life with his 1978 film Swords of Vengeance — or the various kabuki performances, play, or depictions in art and popular culture.
It's impossible to understate how famous the Forty-seven Ronin story is in Japan. In the U.S., it would be the equivalent of something like the Alamo.
So, you can probably understand why these movie posters, which are certainly not traditionally Japanese, seem somewhat vexing for many. It would be like seeing James Bowie wield magic instead of his iconic knife, or having the Alamo populated with giants.
Above you can see three of the posters. There is another one directly below:
On 2ch, Japan's largest forum, many commenters seemed puzzled by the posters. Granted, these are just posters, and the film itself might be wonderful.
"What are these, new Tekken characters?" asked one 2ch commenter.
"This really doesn't evoke the Forty-seven Ronin," wrote another. "But whatever, they can do whatever they like." Others immediately wrote off the movie, while one commenter said, "It seems like it's mixed with The Avengers." Another chimed in, "I imagine the story is something like out of Predator."
"Japan is the place that can truly understand [this story], but it doesn't even seem to be aimed at Japan," chimed in another — to which someone retorted that people in Japan probably wouldn't get it anyway, so they should do what they like. Others also said it was a movie, so it should be judged — whether it's good or bad — solely on its own merits.
"Actually, this is so different from the Forty-seven Ronin, that it actually seems like it will be fun," wrote one commenter. Others said that this was simply entertainment and didn't necessarily need historical facts.
"Looking at these posters, it seems like the court official they're going to kill will shoot lasers out of his eyes like the last boss in a video game," added a commenter. Let's hope so!
47 Ronin will be out this Christmas, complete with samurai, witches, and, uh, giants. No word on the lasers.