The live-action adaptation of Akira is a thing that’s still happening, so we can take little solace that it won’t feature the awkwardly age-inappropriate Keanu Reeves as the teenaged Kaneda. But what comfort remains is now wiped away with the fact that Reeves is starring in newcomer Carl Erick Rinsch’s 47 Ronin, a move even more ridiculous and kind-of-racist than Tom Cruise as The Last Samurai.
For those who don’t know, the legend of the forty-seven ronin is about the band of noble (as in their class status) warriors who took vengeance upon the man that caused the ignoble (as in shameful) death of their master. As /Film points out, the inherently Japanese tale that this particular adaptation is based on has been around since the 1940s, but the actual 47 masterless samurai lived and died in the early 18th century, and the most popular fictionalized re-telling of their story premiered in 1748. So, technically, this is the most adapted story in Japanese history, and probably one of the most re-told in the entire world. But nowhere in any of those re-tellings, or in the accepted history, is there a place for a white guy, much less a mixed-race piece of wood.
As evidenced by the header photo from the set of Rinsch’s and Reeve’s 47 Ronin (more photos of which can be found at /Film), there’s a pretty good reason for this. But it appears that Reeves’ involvement is one of the main reasons this 3-D action adventure was greenlit in the first place, so naturally he had to have a role in the final film, which he describes as:
“I play an outsider, a kind of half-breed with a mysterious past named Kai, who’s in love with the princess and she’s in love with me, but we can’t be together. But during this journey and revenge, things change.”
There’s no mention of a princess or a love story in any of the previous film versions of the Chushingura (the ronin in question), either. So, it sounds like the newest iteration of this story will bear the least resemblance to the source material, or the reality on which that’s based. Well, except for the 3-D, I guess — the real thing probably happened in three dimensions, too. Right? Right. Though, this 47 Ronin does get points over the Keanu-less Akira for having more actual, y’know, Japanese people in it…
Huzzah for American ingenuity!