entertainment

Keanu Reeves explores world of samurai

35 Comments
By YURIKO NAGANO

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35 Comments
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Oh dear . . . .

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Recently I saw two films - 'The Emperor', and 'Pacific Rim' that contain as a subtext the relationship between the US and Japan. The Emperor contains themes of preservation and respect of Japanese traditions and values post WW2 by the US (historical accuracies aside), as well as love between American Man/Japanese Woman involving a man who is deeply intoxicated by Japan. Pacific Rim is a load of garbage, but contains the subtext of the strong bond between Japanese woman/American Man (Japan and America) having the capacity to save the world, and possibly lead to love.

Now, we have Hollywood delving into a traditional Japanese tale, with an American Man getting imbedded deeply into the story, and my guess is that he is going to probably hook up with Rinko Kikuchi, or there will be some kind of romantic there - the mysterious link between West and East.

This follows of course, a similar approach with old Tom Cruise in The Last Samurai, and there are probably others as well.

These are all American films and I'm quite interested in this continual portrayal of the Japan/America relationship on the big screen and this subtexts of harmony, love, mutual respect, cooperation, strong bonds etc. What is American movie making's fascination with this? I mean, Pacific Rim was largely set in Hong Kong, and yet the female character was Japanese.

Is this the manifestation of geo-political policy/reality in the arts? Is it merely a representation of common sentiment and feeling in the US, or something a little broader (more sinister?) than that? Is it simply a case of being great subject matter for a movie?

I can't decide, but it really strikes me as being quite significant due to it's consistency. Would be interested to see what others thought.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

This follows of course, a similar approach with old Tom Cruise in The Last Samurai, and there are probably others as well.

Been there and done that, it's called Shogun. James Clavell started an industry but interestingly his Gaijin hero John Blackthorne, was English and the concept is based on the real life William Adams( Anjin Miura) who lived in Japan in the 16th century and built Tokugawa Ieyasu his first modern ships.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Will be interested to see how they try to explain the half British samurai element. Is he supposed to be descended from John Adams? Other than the Dutch, who were strictly confined to Dejima in Nagasaki, foreigners were not exactly welcome in Tokugawa era Japan.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

kurumazakaNov. 19, 2013 - 08:45AM JST Will be interested to see how they try to explain the half British samurai element. Is he supposed to be descended >from John Adams? Other than the Dutch, who were strictly confined to Dejima in Nagasaki, foreigners were not >exactly welcome in Tokugawa era Japan.

At the time that Dejima was "Dutch" the British had a settlement to the north at Hirado which I believe lasted a few years.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

When will Hollywood make a film with a Japanese lead character? Why must we always thrust an American in a setting where one doesn't belong just so Americans will watch?

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Thanks Ossan, didn't know about Hirado!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

When will Hollywood make a film with a Japanese lead character? Why must we always thrust an American in a setting where one doesn't belong just so Americans will watch?

when japan can produce a actor that can speak native english or near native, and can be a leading actor.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

When will Hollywood make a film with a Japanese lead character? Why must we always thrust an American in a setting where one doesn't belong just so Americans will watch?

Answered your own question, right there. They know what sells.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Said also Reeves: "Whoa."

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Ossan, checked out Hirado. Was shut down by the Tokugawa and merged into Dejima by 1641. Asano Takuminokami committed seppuku in 1701. Reeves is 49, so we should assume his character is between 40-55 years old meaning at closest, his character was born 4 years after the Hirado trading post was shut down. A bit of a stretch, but at least somewhat plausible. I guess we are to assume that his british father was employed by Ako Han (Hyogo pref, a good clip away from Kyushu in those days) without Tokugawa knowledge?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

kurumazakaNov. 19, 2013 - 10:20AM JST Ossan, checked out Hirado. Was shut down by the Tokugawa and merged into Dejima by 1641. Asano Takuminokami >committed seppuku in 1701. Reeves is 49, so we should assume his character is between 40-55 years old meaning at >closest, his character was born 4 years after the Hirado trading post was shut down. A bit of a stretch, but at least >somewhat plausible. I guess we are to assume that his british father was employed by Ako Han (Hyogo pref, a good >clip away from Kyushu in those days) without Tokugawa knowledge?

I really don't think a movie where Kikuchi Rinko transforms into a flying dragon is going to attempt to be historically correct or even feasible any way. Besides, I have no idea what years this movie is supposed to portray. But I a impressed you went and looked it up.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

First off, relax. People are getting upset for the people whom they feel should be upset. Every country that makes semi-historical movies skew the story to fit their country and their people. Ken Watanabe's NHK drama about MacArthur and the emperor was inaccurate and most actors that were supposed to be US soldiers had Aussie accents. China makes quasi-war films sympathetic to their cause as does Russia. And those are supposed to be historically accurate tales, this is admittedly a Hollywood film. And the reason Rinko Kikuchi gets recycled in every big Hollywood movie is because she's reliable, she knows the Hollywood system, speaks English very well, and lives in the States. Buy the popcorn or don't, but remember it's only 47 Ronin.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Keanu has used the same monotone voice since Bill & Ted...been waiting to see this for ages...until i saw the preview...dragons, giants & witches in Chushingura?...sounds like a "not so excellent adventure".

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Kind of along the lines of Ben Affleck as Batman...E'gad!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

"sounds like a "not so excellent adventure"

Har! Hey, Keanu can't be a worse samurai than Tom Cruise. Or can he...

3 ( +4 / -1 )

According to Wikipedia: "Reeves was born in Beirut, Lebanon, the son of Patricia Bond, an English-born costume designer/performer, and Samuel Nowlin Reeves, Jr. His father, a Hawaiian-born American, has English, Native Hawaiian, Chinese, Irish, and Portuguese ancestry."

With a pedigree like that, I guess he can play about whoever he wants.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Ossan, I admit I have not seen the trailer. But that makes it even worse. This is an American director basically blaspheming a classic piece of Japanese history. Chushingura, romanticized or not, really happened, and it is a story the Japanese take great pride in. Director is taking some real liberties here, and I suspect it will piss a lot of people off. But truth is, I'm probably making a big deal over nothing. But we Americans can't complain if a Japanese director decides to make a movie about the American war for independence that features Miyamoto Musashi and his band of Iga ninja as George Washington's personal special forces unit.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

I hope Reeves can get back to his best.. he hasn't done anything decent since Point Break. I ignore The Matrix as the decent first one was totally spoiled by the sequels.

@Tamarama

Pacific Rim is a load of garbage, but contains the subtext of the strong bond between Japanese woman/American Man (Japan and America) having the capacity to save the world, and possibly lead to love.

If you don't understand why a movie like that had to have a Japanese element to it then you're lost. Its one of the least America-centric big budget films I've seen, hardly any of it takes place there, with a Mexican director, full of British actors and no appearance by Morgan Freeman playing the president or whatever. This is reflected in the fact that the film did much better outside than it did in the US.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

@kurumaxaka

"This is an American director basically blaspheming a classic piece of Japanese history."

Chushingura has very little historical significance. My wife has seen hundreds of versions of this tale, but she can't place it in any historical context. Its significance is cultural. Almost every version is romanticized to the rafters. Although based on a true story, its portrayal is more like a tale from Charles Dickens or Mark Twain than say an account of Oda Nobunaga. If a Japanese theater can put on a version of Macbeth, I don't see why Holywood can't try its hand with the Ako Roshi. Having said all that, I expect I'll hate it. :-)

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Keyan Reeves. One of my favourite actors. Great person off the screen also, as I met him in person in L.A. I honestly don't like any japanese actors. The good movies were the really old ones - seven samurai, ran, etc. Kurosawa made some good samurai movies that had a feel of the old. Most japanese actors these days can't act. because they are reading a script in their head. It Hurts my eyes. Even that one dude from the recent battle ship. Crap was a waste of money and time. I saw him also in L.A., typical shady, weird japanese personality when I spoke to him. The only good japanese actor I can say has some class would be Ken Watanabe. Thats about it.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

kurumazakaNov. 19, 2013 - 02:03PM JST Ossan, I admit I have not seen the trailer. But that makes it even worse. This is an American director basically >blaspheming a classic piece of Japanese history. Chushingura, romanticized or not, really happened, and it is a story >the Japanese take great pride in. Director is taking some real liberties here, and I suspect it will piss a lot of people off. >But truth is, I'm probably making a big deal over nothing. But we Americans can't complain if a Japanese director >decides to make a movie about the American war for independence that features Miyamoto Musashi and his band of >Iga ninja as George Washington's personal special forces unit.

I don't think the American public would mind. In fact they love ninjas. Have you seen Abraham Lincoln Vampire Killer?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Don't matter if the movie is true to Chushingura to the tee. Anything that comes out of Hollywood is mostly fantasy and all or part fiction. Either way he seems like a nice guy in real life and besides it's nice he's keeping spotlight on Japan even if it might be a crappy movie. Japan should support him.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

OssanAmericaNov. 19, 2013 - 09:03PM JST

I don't think the American public would mind. In fact they love ninjas. Have you seen Abraham Lincoln Vampire Killer?

hahaha...Lincoln vs. the zombies

oh my...I want RedBox to give me back my 1.28 $ I spent on that garbage

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Other than the title and a few character names this has nothing at all to do with the Ako Ronin or the historical events that we now know as the 47 Ronin Story.

That said, there is little point in arguing "history" as every adaptation of the event, be it for the puppet theatre, kabuki, comic books, and the numerous films, have taken liberties with the story. This new film is perhaps the most "fantastical" take on the story and for those unfamiliar with any early version it will no doubt be a lot of fun.

However...

For those schooled in the kabuki play, Chushingura, or fans of the 1962 film by Inagaki, this new 3D film will be something of a shock and likely a disappointment. Ah well...

Oh, and 3D ... Bah!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I'm going to watch this movie just because it has keanu Reeves and Jin Akanishi in it...

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Better than the movies that are filled with Chinese actors portraying Japanese characters. The look is so totally wrong. RE. Geisha, Kill Bill. And then, because of Kill Bill some clerk in the CD store corrects me, "Oh, you mean yakoooza." Sigh...

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The film is based on an actual historical event during the Edo Period known as “Chushingura.”

"Chushingura" is the term for all the fictional accounts of the story of the 47 ronin. It's a name for fiction, not the name of a period in Edo. Great job researching this, AP.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

"But we Americans can't complain if a Japanese director decides to make a movie about the American war for independence that features Miyamoto Musashi and his band of Iga ninja as George Washington's personal special forces unit."...

Great idea! I would absolutely love to see that one!!!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Davetrousers

If you don't understand why a movie like that had to have a Japanese element to it then you're lost.

Yeah, you've missed the point entirely. Nevermind, glad you enjoyed the film.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Yeah, you've missed the point entirely. Nevermind, glad you enjoyed the film.

Stupid me, I missed all the complex subtext in an action movie about giant robots fighting monsters. You must be so smart.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

The_TrueNov. 19, 2013 - 09:45AM JST "When will Hollywood make a film with a Japanese lead character? Why must we always thrust an American in a setting where one doesn't belong just so Americans will watch? when japan can produce a actor that can speak native english or near native, and can be a leading actor.

Ken Watanabe is nearly there.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

How nice of Hollywood to once again "bastardize" one of the classic historical tales of Japanese lore. And to again insert a "fish out of the water" Caucasian character in the lead among a sea of Japanese/Asians.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

darknutsNOV. 19, 2013 - 09:13AM JST When will Hollywood make a film with a Japanese lead character? Why must we always thrust an American in a setting where one doesn't belong just so Americans will watch?

Better Keanu than Tomtology Cruise!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

motoki can act pretty well but i bet his english is crap....the same reason why the female lead roles for sayuri ( geisha ) went to chinese actresses

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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