’47 Ronin’ Snags Japanese Cast & Production Start Date

Published 3 years ago by , Updated August 13th, 2013 at 11:19 pm,

The last we reported on the Samurai epic 47 Ronin, we heard that it would be shot in 3D as opposed to being converted after the fact. The film will star Keanu Reeves and will be shot under the direction of first-time feature director Carl Erik Rinsch (you may remember he almost directed the scrapped Alien prequel and recently chose 47 Ronin over the Logan’s Run remake).

Thanks to an official press release from Universal Pictures we now know that 47 Ronin will start principal photography in less than two weeks time on March 14th. The last we heard, the film was set to be released on November 21st, 2012, and if that date is still correct, then it gives those involved in making the film plenty of time.

In case you’re unfamiliar with the project, and adaptation of “Japan’s most enduring tale,” here is the synopsis given in the press release:

Keanu Reeves leads the cast as Kai, an outcast who joins Oishi, the leader of the 47 Ronin. Together they seek vengeance upon the treacherous overlord who killed their master and banished their kind. To restore honor to their homeland, the warriors embark upon a quest that challenges them with a series of trials that would destroy ordinary warriors.

We also learn from the press release that four Japanese stars (some would even say superstars) have joined Reeves in the cast, and we even have details of who each of them will be playing:

  • Hiroyuki Sanada – He is best known for his roles in the original Ringu and its sequel; the Tom Cruise east-meets-west action film The Last Samurai; Danny Boyle’s sci-fi epic Sunshine; and fans of the TV series Lost will remember him as the mysterious Dogen in the show’s final season. Here he will play Oishi, the clan’s chief samurai.
  • Tadanobu Asano – He is most known for playing Kakihara in director Takashi Miike’s brilliantly twisted Ichi the Killer; as Genghis Khan in Mongol; and he will soon be seen in this summer’s Thor. Here he will play the evil overlord Lord Kira.
  • Rinko Kikuchi – She garnered acclaim (including an Oscar nomination) for her performance in Babel, and starred as a mostly silent con artist in The Brothers Bloom. Here she will play the mysterious lady Mizuki who executes Lord Kira’s every request in his search for ultimate power.
  • Kou Shibasaki – She is probably most known internationally from the original One Missed Call and the brutal Battle Royale, but has starred in a number of other films, most recently The Lady Shogun and Her Men. Here she will play Mika, the daughter of the clan’s master and the love of Kai’s (Reeves) life.

As an added bonus to this news, we also have a photo taken of the cast together with director Carl Rinsch at a press conference in London:

As strange as it is having Reeves lead a story hailed as Japan’s “national legend” (read: Reeves isn’t Japanese), it’s great to see Japanese talent of this caliber assembled for what will hopefully be an interesting and enjoyable action-adventure – one which utilizes 3D in the best way possible (by being shot in that format). I’ve admired those four actors for a while now (particularly Asano and Sanada) and I very much look forward to seeing them together onscreen.

47 Ronin also sports an impressive team of people behind the scenes, including cinematographer John Mathieson (Gladiator, Robin Hood); editor Craig Wood (Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy, The Ring); production designer Jan Roelfs (Alexander, Gattaca), costumer designer Penny Rose (Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy, Evita); special effects producer Paul Corbould (Mamma Mia!, The Wolfman); and visual effects producer Garv Thorp (Your Highness, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor).

Evidently this is going to be a huge production with a lot of talent working both in front of and behind the camera. Can they do justice to such an enduring and well-respected tale of courage, loyalty, honor and sacrifice? Who knows at this point, but so far things are looking up.

As stated, 47 Ronin is set to start production on March 14th this year and has a planned release date of November 21st, 2012. We’ll let you know if that changes.

Source: Universal Pictures

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25 Comments

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  1. This is an incredible ensemble of Japanese actors! Hiroyuki Sanada is one of my favorite actors and although The Mandarin is a Chinese character, I think he’d be phenomenal portraying that role in Iron Man 3.

  2. This is the direction that they should be going for Akira; a predominant Japanese with a well known American actor.

  3. For some reason Hollywood thinks all the American movie goers are racist and will not go to see a movie with an all Asian cast. While I like Reeves he has no business in this movie except to provide an anchor to help “Americans” identify with the story. The original story doesnt need it though if it is adapted properly and directed effectively.

    Its days like this I miss Kurosawa.

    • @Aleric, I agree this movie really doesn’t need an American actor in it to “garner” more non-Asian views. However, I am against Asian stories adapted by an all or mostly non-Asian cast. This movie rightly should be an all Japanese cast.

    • The original story already has been “adapted properly and effectively” a million times, with an all Japanese cast. In movies, plays, TV, and manga. It’s been done many, many times. If you are at all familiar with Japanese culture, you’ve seen the story done the “all Japanese way” a billion times. What we have never seen is the Hollywood version of this story, including with big Hollywood star, and sheer scope that Hollywood excels at. I think Westerners will be shocked at how popular this film will be in Japan. They are expecting mass protests and indignation from the Japanese, but they don’t understand that this story has been done to death in Japan and this approach is seen as “fresh”.

  4. Let’s play a game of which of the following doesnt fit:

    Japanese national legend
    Japenese talented actors and actresses
    Keanu Reeves

  5. Im curious!

  6. Well statistically movies that have an all ethnic cast do not do well in the box office. Be the predominant cast, black, Asian or Latino… So Hollywood always plays it safe.

    Welcome to White America.

    • Knock,

      Don’t the movies you describe usually also CATER to a particular ethnic group? I don’t see Will Smith or Denzel Washington-starring movies suffering at the box office.

      Vic

      • Yeah that whole “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon” movie did just horrible! /rolls eyes.

        Oh wait…..what about Avatar??? You can’t get more “ethnic” than having the good guys all be a bunch of 8′ tall blue aliens! And look how well that little picture did. ;)

  7. Just by having Sanada in it says “must see” for me. Unfortunately, having Reeves in it says “wait for SR review”. I get what Knock, Knock is saying but I still would have replaced Reeves with the samurai leader from Last Samurai.

  8. @Kahless

    That was Ken Watanabe, he is a very good actor, much better than Reeves, but he is also Asian which falls back into the all Non Caucasion class of film. I love traditional Japanese Samarai epics, Kurasawa did them well, as did a lot of other talented filmakers. Last Saurai was not what I would call a Samurai epic, it was a Tom Cruise vehicle to play a Samurai. It never would have happened in the Samarai code which did not tolerate anyone but pure Japanese to carry the title of Samurai.

  9. come on, keaunu reeves isn’t so bad. i think from a fighting standpoint, he’s proven himself in the matrix. also, he looks SOMEWHAT asian…overall i think the cast is good and i’m optimistic.

    • I like Reeves, he is a good actor in certain projects, loved him in Constantine, but he is not right for every role. The tale of the 47 Ronin did not have ANY causcasions in it, period.

      • @Aleric, Once again I agree, let other people have epic films. Asian,Black, Native American or other ethnic peoples should have epic movies too. LOTR was brilliant but comon’ I’d love to see an African folkloric epic adventure.

  10. Considering what I know about the story I was scratching my head about Reeves being the lead character in a Japanese period piece. I thought maybe this would be some strange American re-imagining but with a Japanese supporting cast I am now completely baffled by the decision.

    I like Reeves but the lead role NEEDS to be all Asian. He is going to look so out of place in this movie.

    • Nah, his character is a half-breed, which is what Keanu looks like. I’m a half-breed Japanese myself. It’s always been strange to me that white America saw Keanu as white, when he plainly looks mixed raced to me. The complaint shouldn’t be that Keanu looks out of place as a half-breed, but that a half-breed character wasn’t in the original story. But the director says his story is more fantasy that history anyway. I’m oddly excited for this movie. I know Japan has a reputation for racism, and obsession with racial purity, but the younger generation has really been striving to put that behind them.

      • Keanu is part Asian. His father’s Asian (Chinese and Hawaiian) and his mother’s white.
        He’s going to stick out like a sore thumb, not only because of his mixed racial background, but because he’s just not that good of an actor.
        I’d much rather have Hiroyuki Sanada or Tadanobu Asano be the lead.
        It’s hard to take Hollywood seriously when decisions are made based on old, outdated ideas. They continue to put in big names, even if it renders the movie absurd.

  11. Hiroyuki Sanada is an awesome actor, cant wait for this too come out.

  12. It doesnot matter how good the japanese actors are Keanu Reeves sells movie tickets, 3 BILLION dollars in a 20 year career. A lot of people WORLDWIDE will NOT go see this film without his draw to it. Say what you will. They will think here we go again another kung fu samuri movie. Hollywood and Universal pics got it right this time. Same as The Matrix, it will be huge and Keanu will bring his own brand of cool and the camera loves me, LOL onto the screen. Someone mentioned will smith and he and denzel said the American market always choose Latina actresses like eve mendez in Hitch, and Rosario dawson in The Pursuit of Happiness, and will wanted Black talened female leads. The world accepted these actresses, but will said Hollywood thought it would be a “Black” movie. WTH? Denzel had to team up with Eva Mendez, both spoke out about this. Keanu sells, all races of women and men LOVE him, and he will sell this blockbuster worldwide with his Japanese friends. One actor is a ancestor the real Aksano (sp). Great cast, How impressive is this cast. Go Keanu Reeves. The all cast Japanese movies usually flop! (Except for CTHidden Dragon)

  13. It doesnot matter how good the japanese actors are Keanu Reeves sells movie tickets, 3 BILLION dollars in a 20 year career. A lot of people WORLDWIDE will NOT go see this film without his draw to it. Say what you will. They will think here we go again another kung fu samuri movie. Hollywood and Universal pics got it right this time. Same as The Matrix, it will be huge and Keanu will bring his own brand of cool and the camera loves me, LOL onto the screen. . Keanu sells, all races of women and men LOVE him, and he will sell this blockbuster worldwide with his Japanese friends. One actor is a ancestor the real Aksano (sp). Great cast, How impressive is this cast. Go Keanu Reeves. The all cast Japanese movies usually flop! (Except for CTHidden Dragon)

  14. i have no idea why everyone is complaining about keanu Reeves being cast in 47 Ronin. if u guys took your time to know about the film’s details, you will know this is not a remake but a different version with elements of 300 in it. Reeves is a gud actor despite what people say. Watch Street Kings and he proved that there. Casting reeves is not because of the American audience, its just like saying casting will smith in I am Legend was for blacks to watch. This will be a good movie, and if no one wants to see it then u know where the door is.

  15. I have to say, if the studio’s going for a surreal/new age interp of 47 Ronin, I’d rather see Will Smith in this than Keanu Reeves. The story of the 47 Ronin has a ton of action and Smith >> Reeves any day in that catagory. ~_^

    mac :]

  16. For as much as I concern, Keanu Reeves is probably the best choice in Hollywood to be cast as an outcast character for 47 Ronin as he’s a half-caste himself anyway, a somewhat tailor-made role for Reeves. And consider to these days that mixed Japanese/Caucasian people in Japan still being seen as an outcast… Keanu Reeves’s role in this production is not way over the line when comparing to Tom Cruise dancing with a samurai sword…

    He has done great in Matrix, and his martial art training is not wasted in 47 Ronin, as I have seen him doing most of his stunt on set in London, so is Sanada, and I’m very looking forward to see the film when it’s going to be released.

  17. What a joke. Come on! Are you serious? Keanu reeves and mainstream Hollywood in a film based on a TRUE story from Japanese history that has NOTHING to do with Caucasians?? Why does the west have to mix themselves into everything? Why can’t we just have an historically accurate representation? No wonder they shot it in another country, I bet Japan would have nothing to do with it, nor would I.

    One day, I will work directly with Japan to shoot better films.

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