Enter the dragon-witch.
A traditional story of honour, the tale of the 47 Ronin is a Japanese cultural touchstone.
Historians may debate the actual facts but it is largely accepted in 1703, a group of Samurai showed remarkable planning and patience while waiting to avenge the death of their master, before then committing ritual suicide.
Keanu Reeves has been the driving force behind this fantastical film version that is (very) loosely based on the legend, but it’s a film that has been riven with production problems. As the budget spiralled to a reported $220m and the movie’s release was delayed several times, stories surfaced that first time director Carl Rinsch had been fired, though they were later denied.
Of course, many films that suffer difficult shoots still emerge as terrific cinema. Let’s hope 47 Ronin is one of those- particularly as any film that sees a samurai punching monsters and giants in the face while duelling with a dragon-witch certainly deserves anyone’s attention.
The official synopsis for 47 Ronin reads thus:
"After a treacherous warlord kills their master and banishes their kind, 47 leaderless samurai vow to seek vengeance and restore honor to their people. Driven from their homes and dispersed across the land, this band of Ronin must seek the help of Kai (Reeves) - a half-breed they once rejected - as they fight their way across a savage world of mythic beasts, shape-shifting witchcraft and wondrous terrors. As this exiled, enslaved outcast becomes their most deadly weapon, he will transform into the hero who inspires this band of outnumbered rebels to seize eternity."
47 Ronin is released on 26th December.