The P word

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Pelicola : The Legend of Hercules AND 47 Ronin

As my first review of the year, I wanted this post to be something else. No, not “something other than it is”, but “something that’s a bit more than alright”. So, I thought, why not talk about two movies? Then, the other voice in my head said, “Yeah, why not?”.

*** WARNING (or should I say SPOILER ALERT): If you have not seen either one of the movies listed here, I suggest you read no further. I want to give my two cents on both films, and I cannot guarantee that this review will not give away important elements.

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What’s weird is that I was supposed to watch 47 Ronin yesterday, but changed my mind because I thought I’d understand Hercules more, since I already knew the legend (or so I thought). Little did I know that I was basically watching its cousin (if films were related). Let me list down for you, dear reader, how both films are similar:

1. BOTH FILMS ARE STORIES OF LEGEND: Hercules, the demigod, is a Greek hero famous the world over as being a son of Zeus (among many) who accomplished twelve seemingly impossible tasks (thus the term “Herculean”). The story of the 47 Ronin (or Masterless Samurai) may not be as famous as Herc’s tale, but Japan has been celebrating their bravery and honor every December 14 (according to the movie).

2. BOTH ARE TALES OF REVENGE: The story of Hercules revolves around the protagonist seeking to reclaim his country and avenge the death of his mother, while the Ronin seek to correct the wrongful death of their master. I will leave it at that, else I give away too much for those who have not seen but still choose to read despite the warning.

3. BOTH PROTAGONISTS POSSESS SUPERNATURAL POWERS: Hercules, being the son of an Olympian Deity (more like THE Olympian Deity) takes up his fathers powers of incredible strength and the ability to wield lightning on a whim. Kai, the half-breed around whom the story of the 47 Ronin (this version, anyway) revolves, was taught how to move fluidly through the air by his former guardians.

4. BOTH PROTAGONISTS DEFY ROYALTY AND ARE FLOGGED FOR IT: Hercules was whipped because he was said to be the leader of the rebellion against King Amphitryon, while Kai defied Japanese tradition (as reiterated by the Shogun) in which only a Samurai was allowed to duel in the festival games.

5 and 6. BOTH PROTAGONISTS ARE THEN SOLD TO SLAVERY, AFTER WHICH BOTH TURN TO SPORTFIGHTING AS A LIVING: Well, more like shoved into the underworld of gambling and fighting, but both Hercules and Kai become fighters for a living after they get sold into a life of slavery. Both make their new “masters” a living by winning fights worth big bucks.

7. BOTH PROTAGONISTS HANDLE STEEL WITH PROFESSIONAL ABILITY: See Movie Posters. Nuff Said. Ok, Professional may be a bit vague and subjective, but you get the idea (I hope).

8 and 9. BOTH HEROES SURVIVE THEIR ORDEALS WITH THE HELP OF A “BUDDY” WHO RALLIES THE TROOPS TOGETHER WITH WHOM THEY RETURN TO THEIR HOMELANDS: Hercules makes it through just fine on his own, actually, but he promises a fellow survivor (Sotiris, Captain of the 4th Division of Greek Infantry) that they will return home together, and they do, as Sotiris convinces the Greek army to rise up against King Amphitryon. Kai, on the other hand, is supported by Oishi, leader of the Samurai.

10. BOTH RETURN HOME TO  LOVED ONES WHO ARE MEANT TO MARRY SOMEONE ELSE: Herc goes through hell and back in order to prevent Princess Hebe of Crete from marrying his brother Iphicles. Kai and the 47 come home to stop the wedding of Lord Kira and Mika, the daughter of their fallen master, with whom the protagonist is infatuated.

11. BOTH LEAD ACTORS LACK THE ABILITY TO DISPLAY EMOTION: Even when angry, Kellan Lutz’s Hercules lacked the ability to display rage and other related emotions through his expressions. Keanu Reeves has always been criticized for this, though his portrayal of Kai fit him as much as his take on Neo of the Matrix.

12. Apparently, BOTH STORIES HAVE BEEN REMADE OVER AND OVER. I don’t think I need to explain how many times Hercules’ story has been portrayed (in fact there’s another one coming this year with the title role played by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson), but it seems that Kai’s 47 Ronin story has also been remade over and over from as far back as 1941, though this is its first Hollywood release.

So, which one did I like more? Well, I’d have to say I wasn’t really expecting much from either film, as I didn’t know much of 47 Ronin except for what I saw in the posters, and the advertisements for Hercules didn’t really catch my attention. Just because the “star” of the Twilight Saga is in the movie, doesn’t mean it’s good. That being said, I’d have to say 47 Ronin was better. Hercules was a so-so story, despite its deviation from the typical fantasy-riddled movie. As I said in an earlier post somewhere else, Hercules = “300” + “Gladiator” with a bit of Jesus Christ and Samson in the mix. In short, it’s not as if there’s anything new. 47 Ronin did it for me as it served to educate and share the Japanese Culture with the world. Sure, most everyone knows of the traditional methods and honorable ways of the Samurai through history and art, and although it had the same feel as “The Last Samurai”, it told the story with the assumption that everyone needed to know that this story is an integral part of Japanese Culture and History.

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Image Credits:

Hercules: http://www.aceshowbiz.com/images/still/legend-of-hercules-image06.jpg

Ronin : http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-PA_vziLUNFk/UlL95nQ10mI/AAAAAAAA7us/YBekuNFIjLk/s1600/47-ronin-movie-1920×1440.jpg

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This entry was posted on January 10, 2014 by and tagged , , , , , , , , .
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