’47 Ronin’ Set Pics: Vibrant Samurai Armor & Keanu Reeves

3 years ago by  

The legend of forty-seven samurai who set out to avenge the death of their leader is based on a real-life incident in the early 18th century. Seeing how the story is a famous one that reflects many coveted values of Japanese society, it’s no surprise that the tale has been adapted into cinematic form several times. Now the legend is getting the big-budget Hollywood treatment, in the form of a 3D project titled 47 Ronin.

47 Ronin began production earlier this year, under the direction of Carl Erik Rinsch, a Ridley Scott protégé who was (at one point) attached to direct Prometheus back when it was a straight-forward Alien prequel. Rinsch was also previously attached to helm a new version of Logan’s Run, but eventually settled on 47 Ronin as his feature-length directorial debut, instead.

Keanu Reeves headlines 47 Ronin, as you will note in the official plot synopsis below:

Kai (Reeves), is an outcast who joins Oishi (Hiroyuki Sanada ), 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.

Reeves has described Kai in 47 Ronin as “an outsider, a kind of half-breed with a mysterious past.” While the character was clearly designed in part to allow for a Caucasian Hollywood star (even one with some Chinese heritage, like Reeves) to sign on and make the project more bankable, the bulk of the remainder of the cast is actually Japanese. Likewise, judging by the early images of costumes and architecture from the 47 Ronin set, the film is aiming to be more of a culturally-authentic recreation of the legend.

Check out said 47 Ronin set pics in the gallery below:

Penny Rose (the Pirates of the Caribbean movies) was responsible for designing the colorful and decorated outfits in 47 Ronin, which also boasts cinematography by frequent Scott collaborator John Mathieson (Gladiator, Kingdom of Heaven). The visual design of the film is openly acknowledged as being influenced by the impressionistic artistic style of filmmakers like Hayao Miyazaki (Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away) and will be captured in cinematic form via the Arri Alexas 3D camera system – the same type used on Martin Scorsese’s acclaimed 3D pic, Hugo, and Ang Lee’s upcoming literary adaptation, Life of Pi.

That’s all to say: 47 Ronin should look great, in terms of production design, cinematography, and even 3D effects.

The 47 Ronin script was co-penned by Chris Morgan (Wanted, Fast Five) and Hossein Amini (The Wings of the Dove, Drive), so it should be a mashup of Hollywood-style blockbuster action and more mediative drama. It remains to be seen if Rinsch can deliver a final product that strikes a nice balance between those two thematic approaches. Having an action star like Reeves (who does best when playing the strong silent type, like in 47 Ronin) should hopefully help, rather than hurt, in that regard.


Look for 47 Ronin to hit theaters around the U.S. on November 21st, 2012.

Source: Market Saw (via Latino Review)



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  1. Looks good.

  2. yes looks good

  3. everything looks good minus Reeves.

    • Agreed

  4. Well, since his character is describe as an outcast, and he is a half-breed, I can see Reeves being in this. I’ll wait for a SR review.

  5. It’s a little corny IMO (but that’s probably just the amateur photographer who took those lame photos).

    Still, it’s been a while since I saw a good samurai flick so I’m keeping my hopes up…

  6. It’s neo in Japan!!!

  7. Im sure this will be cool… But wont have anything on 13 Assassins.

    • 13 Assassin’s is the best Samurai movie made.

      • Not better than Sword of Doom, Yojimo , Sanjuro or Harakiri but the best modern day, it and After the Rain

        • Nor is it better than Seven Samurai, but few — if any — movies are.

          But it is a very good, entertaining and moving movie.

          A nice update of a Seven Samurai-style storyline, and a good remake of the original 13 Assassins as well.

          It’s also based on a true event.

        • The best modern samurai movie is The Twilight Samurai. I would even go as far as to say it is better than The Seven Samurai and Harakiri.

      • Just watched “13 Assassins” on DVD from my friendly neighborhood video shop here in Taiwan where I reside these many moons. Unfortunately, for some reason, there were no English subtitles, only Chinese, which I can read, but not that fast. Still, any awesome film, even though I was not entirely sure about what the hell was going on in certain specific detail at all moments leading up to the forty-minute or so battle at the end.

  8. Can’t for this.

  9. Can’t WAIT for this.

  10. So it’s Kwai Chang Caine in Japan?

    I can only assume that this will be filmed in English which never sits well with me if it’s a period piece in Japan. The other possibility is having Reeves speaking Japanese which make me cringe just as much. :P

    • apparently it was filmed in both languages. I almost feel sorry for you ;)

      • Maybe Keanu’s character will be a mute. :)

        • not in this film ;)

  11. Can’t wait for this

  12. Im down for any movie with Keanu in it.

  13. Did the original story include a half breed or was it change to include an American actor?

  14. I don’t doubt Carl Rinsch. After Hugo I don’t doubt 3D’s potential for live-action films. I love me some Samurai movies, love me some ’13 Assassins’.

    …And I never, ever, bet against the Reeves. ‘Lake House’ FTW

  15. should have just got tom cruise a la “the last samurai”

  16. Keanu Reeves is physically incapable of acting. It’s like his face is paralyzed. I hate Reeves.


  18. Will this be a pure swordplay film like others in the past or will it be making use of Keaneau’s martial arts abilities (which I’ve heard he’s kept up with after the Matrix films).

  19. Is there a question in film making here? Saw “Devil’s Double” the other day and in the extras it mentions that the story isn’t factual, which normally reduces my enjoyment of movies like it. The big part of the appeal though was Dominic Cooper’s performance as Uday/Latif. For me it went a long way in saving it from being pure vengeful exploitation of the subject by Michael Thomas and Latif Yahia. So.. back to the real question if Keanu’s wore a disguise but his “acting style, if you can call it that” was kept, how would we really rate his performance? Do we hate only his style, his choice of material, or his total screen presence? I’m trying to ignore the man himself because I can’t claim to know him as a person.

    • “back to the real question if Keanu’s wore a disguise but his “acting style, if you can call it that” was kept, how would we really rate his performance? Do we hate only his style, his choice of material, or his total screen presence?”

      good question. looking forward to the answers, if any ;)

  20. Keanu Reeves is the greatest most awesomest worst actor ever. I will be in line for this just because he is just an awesome dude.

  21. Excellent comment, Rafter dude. I, too, expect his performance to be most triumphant.

    “I am an F. B. I. agent!” Pure gold.

    • Pure gold indeed :)

      But that was 20 years and more than 30 films ago. In the meantime, Reeves grew up and improved a lot as an actor, while some of today’s audience seems to be stuck in 1991… ;)

  22. chinese samurai?
    strange japan

    • If they’re really “aiming to be more of a culturally-authentic recreation of the legend,” maybe they should start by getting rid of the Chinese-style costumes, especially that blue one.

      Where’s the historical consultant on this? Taking a nap? Judging from these pictures, this film looks like it’s going to be absolutely awful.

  23. You know what would have been better than casting Reeves as a Eurasian? Casting him as a native Ainu. They have beards just like he does, very similar looks, and they are a distinct aboriginal people with ancient roots in Japan. They have always lived on the periphery of national Japanese culture. A little makeup for an Ainu face tattoo, and he would have good to go for a major shout-out to a neglected people, kept the motif for the movie 100% within the boundaries of Japan, and taken advantage in the best possible way of the fact that he himself really doesn’t look that Asian at all.

  24. I certainly do not mind the thought of a 47 Ronin take in the fantasy genre; after all, if I wanted to watch Chushingura, I’d watch Chushingura (or any of the Japanese formalist versions out there – of which there are many).

    However, whoever hired Penny Dreadful to do the costume design seriously needs to have their cranium evacuated (along with the old trout herself).

    When the teaser trailer aired for a short while in Japanese cinemas late last year, there was much puzzlement as to why it all looked so Chinese. And when Penny-lope added that she felt that Japanese costumes did not have the right look for medieval Japan she just exposed her own ignorance (not least because the film is not medieval at all).

    It does not take much to ruin a film, and this might just be it.

    Penny Rose. You’re fired!

  25. Its not too bad as this is a western film and a lot of Manga anime have these style costumes as opposed to historically accurate ones, it remains to be seen if the storytelling(ie: the important part) is good or not.

  26. Who outfitted these “neon-samurai”-freaks?

    I cannot decide what is the worst part on the blue dude; the garish chinese rayon gi, the all-soft-leather helmet, the Conan-fantasy arm guard, the leather-flames on the throat guard – or the blue metallic colour…
    And the red ones are not far behind.

    Not even Cosplay-kids who make their own outfits do it this bad. Somebody should be banned from the industry for life.

    Even giving the actors Borat Mankinis would not have ruin the film half as much as these pure fantasy creations…

    I will be having nightmares for weeks!

  27. I have watched 47 Ronin yesterday and i would say it was awesome movie! Thumbs up to Keanu & other actors. You all should go and see it.

  28. Beautiful, powerful, emotional movie. Go see it, people. It’s something else.