Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Jmovie review: The Last Ronin / Saigo no Chuushingura

The Last Ronin is about the aftermath of the 47 Ronin incident. I've not seen a movie about the 47 Ronin but its such a famous story that I've heard of it. Basically, 47 ronin took revenge for their lord who was forced to seppuku and in turn the 47 did seppuku after the succeeded in their revenge. Its one of those tales that romanticise the whole live and die for your lord and honour thing.

The Last Ronin is not another Twilight Samurai clone nor is it another 100 minions running at our protagonist with katanas in the air so that he can chop them up. Not only is it a continuation of the 47 ronin story but it also subscribes to the same themes. One's enjoyment of The Last Ronin will depend on how much you can buy into these romanticised samurai ideals.

For me, the main enjoyment is that this is another variation of the 'Hikaru Genji Kaikaku'. The Hikaru Genji Plan which I learned from watching City Hunter is from Tales of Genji, which if I'm not mistaken is from Japan's first and most famous novel. Basically this dude, Hikaru Genji kidnaps this kidnaps this girl and raises her with the sole purpose of marrying her when she comes of age. The intentions are a lot more pure in The Last Ronin but you get my drift.

In The Last Ronin, this girl Kane is played by Sakuraba Nanami. (Kane as in Japanese for money no the Undertaker's brother) Sato Koichi plays Kichiemon who is the sole survivor of the 47 and Yakusho Koji plays Magozaemon, a samurai who abandoned his post the night before the 47's attack and who is Kane's guardian. Mixed in the story is a former oiran, merchants and lots of talk about duty and what a warrior must say and do but during most of the movie, there was only one thing in my mind: Sakuraba Nanani is so utsukushii!

Beautiful is too rough a word for Kane. Sakuraba Nanami's performance makes her the yamato nadeshiko of all yamato nadeshikos. Grace, beauty, purity, class and some moe scenes. :) I was just transfixed. Yes, I admit it. I am a goddamn shallow jmovie watcher. The screencaps don't do her justice. It felt like its been ages since I last saw her in Futatsu no Spica and she showed so much promise and then I looked up her wiki and realised she was in that 99s days crap dorama which I had banished from my memory. She definitely has mastered the Hirosue Ryoko art of gazing longingly at something in a distance.

The acting is great and Yakusho Koji is one of my favourite actors but its hard to give The Last Ronin a must watch without being able to view the movie objectively. After watching I just couldn't decide whether it was a must watch cause I kept seeing Sakuraba Nanami's face. By the gods, I love typing her name.

Classic Hirosue Ryoko sad look. Someone cast here in Summer Snow remake!

On an unrelated note, Jadefrost wrote a nice preview of the Gaiji Keisatsu movie which you can find here. Does it happen before the dorama series?


Squandary said...

The 1962 Inagaki Hiroshi version of Chushingura is the best I've seen. In the late 70s it played at the Berkeley Cinema in Berkeley California, every night for four years.

Akiramike said...

Thanks for the recommendation Squandary, getting it now.