Movie Reviews

Movie Review: Rurouni Kenshin (Samurai X) Live-Action Film

A good adaptation that’s entertaining for both fans and non-fans alike with its sense of humor, dynamic action scenes, and a strong performance by its lead actor.

A samurai known as Battosai (Takeru Satoh) fights on the side of the rebels, killing countless men in the name of bringing a new age of peace to Japan. At the end of the war, he renounces killing. Ten years later, Battosai arrives in Tokyo, now a wanderer going by the name of Kenshin Himura. There, in spite of his vow of pacifism, he gets embroiled in a conflict involving a rich businessman who deals in opium, an imposter using the Battosai name, and a small fencing school headed by a kind and strong willed teacher. – Click the City

The live action film was able to present a decent narrative from two story arcs. The story skipped some plot points in the anime series, but not to the detriment of the narrative in the film.

It looks grounded and, even for the over top villain and anime antics, realistic. The set pieces were lifted from the anime series and added with period detail.  The characters sweat under their kimonos and get grimy from the action. The set pieces were smaller compared to the anime series, but considering the budget needed to create an exact replica of the historical settings, it’s understandable.

The characters were directly lifted from the series, each with their own familiar nuances. The lead actor was able to capture both two sides of the wandering samurai – the sometimes clueless and silently brooding Kenshin, and the serious and misguided Battousai.  The rest of the characters were good, with Sanosuke providing much of the laughs.

The film relied on practical effects with Hong Kong style action scenes, giving it a cool and kinetic look and feel. The wire work wasn’t used to make aerial battles. It was used to make the characters move really fast, which made for spectacular action sequences without looking fake.  The lead actor was able to perfectly execute every fighting pose that you would have found in the anime series. The sword fights were serious with enough CGI blood spills.

The serious side of the film though clashes with its silly overtones. There’s enough characterization here to introduce the main cast but there are some minor kinks. Saito in the film lacks the slyness of his manga counterpart. Emi Takei is too good looking to play Kaoru – a supposedly average strongly built woman. There are times that she even overshadows Megumi, who is supposed to be a bombshell.

Flaws aside, Rurouni Kenshin is a good adaptation that can stand on its own. It has a storyline that fits well into the limited screen time, exciting action scenes, and funny spots. For all the fans, they can rest assure that their favorite anime still stays as amazing as their younger selves remember it to be.

My Rating: 8/10

Alternative Movie Poster from Deviant Art by jbcasacop

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