Keanu Reeves’ Worst Movie Is Somehow A Netflix Hit

47 Ronin is getting a lot of streaming fans on Netflix.

By Charlene Badasie | Published

keanu reeves 47 ronin

Fantasy action film 47 Ronin is currently at the number four spot on the U.S. Netflix streaming charts, according to FlixPatrol. Starring Keanu Reeves, the movie is a fictionalized account of the Forty-Seven Ronin, based on actual events at the start of the 18th century. The story tells of a group of samurai who avenge their fallen leader before committing suicide according to the ancient samurai code of Bushido.

Directed by Carl Rinsch from a screenplay by Chris Morgan and Hossein Amini, the movie is set in 18th-century Japan, where a group of samurai warriors serves under Lord Asano Naganori. Viewers are then introduced to Kai (Keanu Reeves), a half-Japanese/half-English outcast saved by Asano. Despite his mixed ancestry, Kai and Asano’s daughter Mika fall in love.

Later, Lord Asano is manipulated by a treacherous court official named Kira Yoshinaka, who provokes him into drawing his sword within the Shogun’s palace. As a result, Asano is ordered to commit seppuku (ritual suicide) for his act of disrespect. Following their master’s death, the samurai become ronin, stripped of their status, and left without a leader.

One of the samurai, Oishi (played by Hiroyuki Sanada), vows to avenge his death and preserve his honor. Oishi plans to gather the scattered ronin and carry out a carefully orchestrated attack on Kira to restore justice. During their preparations, Oishi encounters Kai (Keanu Reeves), who possesses unique skills and becomes instrumental in their mission.

keanu reeves
Keanu Reeves and Hiroyuki Sanada in 47 Ronin (2013)

As the ronin train and strategize, they face various challenges and mystical encounters. They encounter magical creatures, such as a shape-shifting witch (played by Rinko Kikuchi) who seeks to manipulate events for her own evil purposes. Additionally, they must overcome betrayal and political obstacles as they infiltrate Kira’s stronghold to exact their revenge.

The film’s climax features an epic battle between the Ronin and Kira’s forces, with Oishi and Kai (Keanu Reeves) leading the charge. The samurai display their exceptional skills and unwavering loyalty to their fallen lord. Ultimately, their pursuit of vengeance carries significant consequences, and they must confront the price they pay for their actions.

47 Ronin expertly blends history with fantasy elements by combining samurai traditions and cultural references with supernatural creatures and mysticism. However, while the film draws inspiration from the real 47 Ronin, it takes creative liberties to create a more action-packed narrative. Still, the story showcases themes of honor, loyalty, sacrifice, and the resilience of humanity in the face of adversity.

Following its release in 2013, 47 Ronin received generally negative reviews from critics. While the Keanu Reeves film was praised for its visual style, action sequences, and costume design, it was slammed for its pacing, lack of character development, and deviations from historical accuracy. Blending fantasy elements into a historical tale was also a point of contention for some.

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47 Ronin (2013)

The film earned a dismal $151 million at the box office against its $175–225 million production budget. However, despite its poor performance, 47 Ronin has gained a cult following over the years. Unsurprisingly, Keanu Reeves’ character, Kai, was a fictional addition to the traditional story, which bothered history buffs.

As a result, 47 Ronin received additional criticism for its cultural appropriation, as some argued that the predominantly white creative team and the casting of Keanu Reeves as the lead detracted from the story’s Japanese cultural heritage. The film also faced production challenges and underwent multiple script revisions, director changes, and delays.

Still, Keanu Reeves’s commitment to the project demonstrated his willingness to take on unique and diverse roles. Despite the mixed reception of 47 Ronin, Reeves’s career continued to thrive. He appeared in films like John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, Toy Story 4 (as the voice of Duke Caboom), and The Matrix Resurrections, reprising his iconic role as Neo.

Keanu Reeves’s career choices have showcased his range as an actor, as he often chooses projects that allow him to explore different genres and collaborate with talented filmmakers. He will next be seen in Ballerina by director Len Wiseman. Written by Shay Hatten and Emerald Fennell, the movie is a spin-off of the John Wick franchise.

The story follows Rooney, a ballerina assassin hunting the people who killed her family. Led by Ana de Armas as the titular character, the cast also includes Anjelica Huston, Gabriel Byrne, Lance Reddick, Catalina Sandino Moreno, Norman Reedus, Ian McShane, and Keanu Reeves. The movie is set for release in June 2024. In the meantime, fans in the United States can catch 47 Ronin on Netflix.