Thursday, July 25, 2013

ばか! When Hollywood Gets It Wrong Part II

Normally, we don't judge a movie before we see it in it's entirety, but after seeing the trailer for the new Keanu Reeves-Hiroyuki Sanada  collaboration titled "47 Ronin" we were outraged enough to make an exception. Seriously! Do these studio executives and their focus groups (comprised of mostly unemployed background extras) even know the story of the time honored tale of the revered Ako Ronin and their famous vendetta? Do they even care about Japanese history? For reals! What the fuck does flying dragons, Kung Fu, and Gaijin  have to do with avenging the forced seppuku of Ako Lord Asano Naganori for assaulting Lord Kira in Edo Castle? NOTHING! ばか!

As an affectionado and Japanese history buff, I ask why take an awesome time honored true story of Japanese History of some of the most legendary Samurai of the Edo Period and add a bunch of fantasy bullshit to sell a story? Worse, your lead actor isn't even Japanese! It was one thing when they cast Ziyi Yang in Memoir's of a Geisha (because they say here in America we're not racist to exclude other actors and then you see our politics - right!) but this is going too far. That same tired argument of race has been used to justify casting decisions doesn't fly with me. Sure, John Wayne might have been a good cowboy actor for Westerns but did he not suck as Mongol Warlord Genghis Khan? He was the worst! "Well if the Kublai Khan don't like it he can just move the hell out Pilgrim?" For real? Are you fucking kidding me? This is why that tired racial argument in casting period pieces does not fly. "Oh but this is an action/adventure fantasy film!" Really? Then why dishonor the memory of the 47 Ako Samurai or involve them in the first place? Seriously!

While we love Sanada Hiroyuki in Twilight Samurai and The Last Samurai (ok that was a stretch but he was still believable in that one), we have to ask how can he sell out his own history for a paycheck? Please tell me he had some objection to the title or the ridiculous premise. His reputation is on the line and we'd love an explanation. We love historical fiction when they get it right. But as you can see from the trailer this is as much as a historical travesty as adding Apache Attack Helicopters to the tale of George Washington crossing the Delaware River. And if you're in Japan reading this do know that there are Americans who do care and will not settle for some Hollywood big budget special effects driven bastardization of Japanese history. And while there are some people including some actors out there trying to make a living in Hollywood saying, "whoa Mishima relax, it's just a movie."  Yeah? Then please go to the Sengaku-ji Temple in Japan and explain it to the 47 souls who weep from heaven. But don't take our word for it. Watch the trailer, leave your fact checker behind, and see it for yourself!


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