Friday, December 20, 2013

Xpress Reviews: 47 Ronin & Captain Phillips

2013 is almost over. I've missed quite a lot of movies this year but will still say that its been one of the best 12 months in terms of films being released! Now if only I could afford to blog more often. Right then, here's two quick movie reviews so that December won't be a barren month. Both are based on true stories (although I do have doubts on elements of the first one). Happy holidays folks!

# 47 Ronin [2013]

"If we do this, there's no coming back!"

Gifs taken from here
Directed By: Carl Rinsch
Written By: Chris Morgan, Hossein Amini, Walter Hamada
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Hiroyuki Sanada, Ko Shibasaki, Tadanobu Asano, Rinko Kikunchi, Jin Akanishi
The Story: Based on the true-life legend of the 47 Ronin, a samurai group that set out to avenge the murder of their master.
The Verdict: Without knowing much about the movie while going in, I was actually surprised at how big of a role fantasy elements played in 47 Ronin. To be honest I would have preferred less magic, witchcraft, mythical creatures, and CGI. Whenever the film focused on the more grounded drama of the samurai/ronin, we could feel an emotional pull to the story and felt much more invested (and interested) in the film. As for the fight sequences, the choreography on display is spectacular. Keanu Reeves (playing the character Kai) has proved in the past that he makes a pretty stellar martial-artist, and it is no different here. The same can be said of the other samurai too, particularly Hiroyuki Sanada (playing the character Oiishi), all whom we can have no problems in believing that they are indeed top-notch samurai.
Rating: 6.5 out of 10

# Captain Phillips [2013]

"I came too far, I can't give up"

Directed By: Paul Greengrass
Written By: Billy Ray
Starring: Tom Hanks, Barkhad Abdi, Barkhad Abdirahman, Faysal Ahmed, Mahamt M. Ali
The Story: Based on the true story of Captain Richard Phillips (played by Tom Hanks) on board the MV Maersk Alabama cargo ship as it is been hijacked by Somali pirates.
The Verdict: What's one of the best conditions to watch a movie which is based on true events? By not knowing how those events unfolded in real life, that's how. That actually was the case when I viewed last year's award winning film, Argo [2012] for the first time. The climatic scene in that film was one of the most intense and suspenseful cinematic experience I've had in a while. Captain Phillips also succeeds in generating those tense and fearful moments, only here it is present from very early on in the movie and lasts right to the end. Tom Hanks has starred in many of my favorite movies (list of my 10 Favorite Tom Hanks Movies here), and with the brilliant Captain Phillips, he manages to add another notch on the belt.
Rating: 9.5 out of 10


  1. Glad 47 Ronin is pretty good, I'll watch it just for Keanu :D

    As for Capt. Phillips, it's definitely a gripping thriller, glad to see Abdi got nominated for SAG and Golden Globes!

    1. I enjoyed 47 Ronin but feel it could have been much better. Keanu is awesome in the fight scenes!!

      I agree and its quite astonishing when we realize Abdi has never acted before this!

    2. Btw, did you know that Abdi was a former limo driver who got picked amongst 700 people during the casting call? He's from my neck of the woods Minneapolis :D

    3. Just found out about it. Amazing! From limo driver to (possible) Oscar nominee. I hear the rest of the Somali pirates had no experience either!

  2. While watching 47 Ronin, I kept thinking,

    "Hell, this would be better if they all talk in Japanese..."


    "47 Ronin... Why not 47 Ronins? Is the title grammatically correct?"

    Anyway, I was a bit disappointed because I wanted more CGI action. I watched the trailer before watching it... So I expected more monsters & cool magical katana fights.

    Because of that, the movie was a bit draggy for me.

    The simple way of how that big villain samurai died was very disappointing.

    The ambush on the last part was really cool but I don't think that's the samurai way. That's more of a ninja sort of attack. I don't know... I'm no samurai expert :-P

    Acting wise, like you said, all Japanese (or Asian) actors did great. I really did think that it'd be better in Japanese language. Keanu's acting was of to be expected... the Neo style as I would call it.

    Taking those into consideration, I would give a lower rating than you :-D

    1. While writing this I did wonder about the plural for both samurai and ronin. A google search later and it is indeed just "samurai" and "ronin".

      I agree that ending with the giant samurai was a let down. Also the promotional posters had that guy with a lot tattoos, but he was only in the film for mere seconds!! False advertising there!

      I don't know much about samurai too, but I have seen a few films where samurai makes sneak attacks. Also since this is based on true story/legend, I guess that it is the way of the samurai :P

    2. Oh, yeah... and I would have preferred they speak in Japanese too! :)

  3. alamak! saya x suka ronin 47, siap tertido...
    the lead chic tu sangat tertanya2 dlm pawagam sapa dia dan rasa cam pernah nampak...search2 kat imdb Mitsuko BR! hoh! bagus dia ada banyak gak flicks after Battle Royale

    yg captain philips tu lak, dah kuar malas tgk bro dl before midnight...I was impressed!

    1. Betul la... ramai kata 47 Ronin nih boring.... aku dah pasan pasal Mitsuko... dia dlm list favorite female villains aku!! mungkin x pasan pasal dlm BR dia evil tp dlm Ronin nih plak baik n innocent giler!

      Before Midnight... dah lama ada dlm simpanan, lom tgk2 agi.... tp aku mmg fan dua cite sblom nih dlm trilogi tuh... before sunrise & before sunset

    2. aku x ingat sesungguhnyer sunrise dan sunset...sunrise ingat la sikit2 but sunrise mmg blank..
      however yg ni best...sangat best..ku enjoy, walaupon keje miker bebel

    3. haha... mmg semua dlm trilogi pasal org berckap jer.... hopefully I'll see Before Midnight next week... dah lama sgt tangguh... :)

  4. I watched Capt. Phillips and was pleasantly surprised at how much of a great film this is. I enjoyed the reality or realness (I know not a real word) of this film. This film made me feel like this is most likely how these events truly transpired.
    When this event took place I read about it so I kinda went into the film thinking they would change alot of the facts and to my knowledge they did not do that. So many films now adays change the facts for various reasons. I appreciate that they stayed true. give this film 8.5 out of 1o.
    On a side note I was thinking during the film that I bet a bunch of lefties (I'm not a righty or lefty just a common sense person) will have a problem with the film and say it's racist. Of course they did, I have heard chatter and their reasons make no sense of course - since the film is about something that really happened just like facts state. To me their outrage about the film is hilarious, I guess they should have changed the pirates to Caucasian guys... I know that sounds funny but that's exactly what tv shows like Law&Order do, taking real crimes ripped straight from the headlines and slightly changing some minor facts and making the perpetrator(s) White solves the "racist" problem.

    1. It did stay true a lot to the real events. More than the average Hollywood adaptions. If you're interested, there's a website dedicated to movies based on real life and comparing them to those actual events. Its ( You'll find loads of other movies and research done on how much they stay true to the events.

      On the "racist" issue... well, some people are just too darn sensitive... to a point of fault! They complain about everything!


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