Film Trailers

Trailer Watch: Keanu Reeves Gives the 300-Treatment to Japanese History in Ronin 47

UPDATED 8/28/2013: A new trailer has been released.  I have embedded it at the bottom of this article about the first trailer.

Ronin 47 is Universal Pictures humongous ($175 million budget) 3D historical fantasy re-telling of the Japanese tale of 47 eighteenth century samurais avenging their deceased master’s honor.  The first trailer came out today.

Here it is:

In a year full of failed (financially, at least) gambles (Jack the Giant Slayer, After Earth, White House Down, The Lone Ranger, Pacific Rim, R.I.P.D.) it’s hard to look at Ronin 47 and not see the giant, flashing-neon-light warning signs of impending doom.  The director (Carl Erik Rinsch, making his directorial debut) is unproven, the star (Keanu Reeves) a non-entity at the box office since 2008, and the rest of the cast filled with Japanese actors beloved in their home country but little-known outside of it.  It started filming in early 2011, but has had its release date pushed back twice, first moving from last November to February of this year and then to Christmas Day of this year.

So, there were a lot of extra curious eyes greeting today’s release of the first trailer for Ronin 47.  As expected, it is taking serious liberties with the historically-based tale of the 47 Ronin.  This version looks more like The Last Samurai meets 300 meets Lord of the Rings, although unlike the latter’s current prequels (The Hobbit) Ronin 47 has no problem showing the dragon in their trailer (for better or worse).  It also has a slight Samurai Jack vibe to it with some of its samurai-based imagery.

Reeves, for his part, might have finally found the perfect role as a physically gifted, stoic hero who only speaks in monotoned, monosyllabic sentences.  This time around he won’t need a computer program to teach his character kung-fu, though.  The actress playing the villain appears to be having the time of her life, camping it up.  Hopefully, we’ll all feel the same when this comes out Christmas Day.

It is a bit difficult to see the giant samurai depicted in the trailer and not think of the version of the Silver Samurai appearing in The Wolverine.  

Cooler Samuari?  This:

The-wolverine-silver-samurai

Or This?

46195-47-ronin-poster

With the explosion of the importance of the Asian markets (especially China) to worldwide box office success, Hollywood studios have been increasingly willing to gamble on big-budget films designed to have a general appeal in most markets but a very specific appeal to Asian markets.  As a result, The Karate Kid reboot was set in China, and it was a huge hit (over $300 million worldwide). The Last Airbender made $319 million worldwide even though no one seemed to like it.  Iron Man 3 created scenes which only aired in the Chinese version of the film, and imported well-known Chinese actors in incredibly minor roles. Looper incorporated Chinese elements into the storyline specifically for the purpose of broadening its Asian appeal. It’s probably not a coincidence that the classic Silver Samurai storyline from the Wolverine comics which sees our clawed hero living for an extended period of time in Japan was able to get made now.  Pacific Rim, so heavily influenced by Asian genres like manga and mecha, is disappointing stateside, but is bound to open huge when it opens soon in China and Japan.

Where will Ronin 47 fall?  More importantly, will it be any good?  It definitely looks intriguing, and World War Z is recent evidence that troubled productions do not always equate to distressed films. What do you think?

UPDATE: 8/28/2013

Here’s the new international trailer –

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