by Chris MaGee
According to Grady Hendrix over at Kaiju Shakedown none other than Keanu Reeves has signed on to star in a Hollywood retelling of the classic Japanese tale of "The Loyal 47 Ronin". As a refresher the story tells of a group of 47 samurai who in the early years of the 18th-century waited and plotted for an entire year to seek revenge for their lord who was forced to commit seppuku after having attacked a lord of greater rank (even though he was a world class jerk and deserved it). "The Loyal 47 Ronin" or as it's known in Japan "Chūshingura" is thought by many as the Japanese epic. It's been adapted to the screen numerous times, most notably by Hiroshi Inagaki in 1962's "Chūshingura" and Kon Ichikawa in 1994's "47 Ronin". Hirokazu Kore-eda even incorporated the famous tale into his 2006 jidai-geki film "Hana yori mo nao".
Now the question is how is this Keanu Reeves version going to work out? I have visions of either 47 CGI Keanus from "The Matrix"doing wire-fu tricks or the cast being fleshed out by 46 other big name Hollywood actors. Well, they may not be able to pull together 47 so they'd have to start picking from the B-grade and C-grade actors lists. Steve Gutenberg and Pauly Shore in samurai gear, anyone?
Seriously though, the idea of a Hollywood version of the 47 Ronin doesn't bother me that much, even when I hear that Chris Morgan, the guy who scripted the recent Angelina Jolie action flick "Wanted", and "Kung-Fu Panda" director John Stevenson are set to be working behind the scenes on it. They're take on the epic is to "tell a stylized version of the story, mixing 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'." Okay, fine, but just as long as they don't gloss over the ending... SPOILERS ahead... By the end of the story all of the samurai must commit seppuku as well for breaking the law and murdering this high ranking lord (again, even though he was a world class jerk and deserved it). Will Hollywood want a big budget picture where all the stars die at the end? Not much sequel potential in that is there?