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The moment I saw the trailer for 47 Ronin, I immediately thought of The Last Samurai with Tom Cruise and every other movie where a white guy shows the native culture how to do their native culture stuff.  Everything from Tarzan to Iron Fist always has some white, white dude becoming “the one” instead of, ya know, someone from the country where all this mystical stuff is happening.

47 Ronin actually doesn’t do that.  Keanu’s backstory is solid and make sense.  (He is part Asian, at least.)  And much like every classic Japanese tale told in the feudal age, it is a tragic love story about honor and redemption.  There are a couple of moments where the movie threatens to get overwhelmed by the CGI, but these moments are few.  Like Keanu’s performance, the movie is constantly try to understate what could be big.

Keanu plays Kai, a half-Asian man who was taken in by a kindly lord after escaping the forest where demons dwell.  Although he is raised by demons, he wants to live amongst humans despite the fact that they treat him lower than dirt.  He is in love with the lord’s daughter, Mika, but they can never be together because her station is so much higher than his.  When Kai’s lord is betrayed, he and many of his samurai are cast out as ronin (masterless samurai) and one year later, must fight to avenge their lord.  Add into the mix Japanese spirit monsters, excellent direction and Keanu’s performance (which is mostly ass kicking and no dialogue) and you have an epic tale that really slid under the radar when it was released.

Keanu Reeves has really been making some awesome actioners recently (see John Wick) and everyone (including me) who says “Dude!” every time he says a line, has really got to rethink this actor’s image.  See 47 Ronin.  Keanu is Ted no more.  (47 Ronin is currently on HBO on Demand.)