Movie Review: Rurouni Kenshin Live Action Film (2012 and 2014)
First and foremost, I am truly apologetic that I was unable to write a review on the first film of the Live Action adaptation of Rurouni Kenshin though I was able to watch it on Day 1 as well last 2012.
To give justice to it, I’d like to make a review of it together with the awesome sequel I watched last night which, as hinted earlier, was also its day 1.
To start things off, I’d like to say that the first movie was a very good adaptation of the series. Though the producers and directors had to change the plot a bit, the story still bares a good resemblance to the popular manga and anime it is based on. If anything, the producers were able to mimic the otherwise physically impossible actions sequences in the anime and made them look so real and doable.
The first movie was a certified classic in such a way that it didn’t solely focus on giving fanservice but actually built a good plot and a good background for heroes and villains alike. The movie was able to produce gut wrenching comedy and heartbreaking moments while maintaining awe inspiring and jaw dropping fight sequences.
I’ll rate this 10/10
The sequel to the series brings us back to the nostalgia of having the terrifying presence of Kenshin’s ultimate rival: Shishio Makoto. By all means, Shishio is and will always be Kenshin’s strongest opponent since Shishio technically beat Kenshin in a duel (Kenshin being injured in previous fights; Shishio suffering in his severely burned body) but some would like to argue that if Kenshin used an ordinary blade, not reverse-edged, then he would’ve one earlier. And that’s a debate that loyal fans would love to discuss for years on end.
The movie this time had an air of darkness that surrounds it all. Unlike the first film, this one engulfs their world in a possible dystopic future and that effectively puts the audience on the edge of their seats all throughout the movie. It was so dark, in fact, that the comedy was all but lost in the entirety of the film. The funny scenes were heavily concentrated in the first half of the film and the succeeding scenes didn’t have even half of the former. Alas, this film wasn’t made to be funny but if you’re someone who watched the first film, you can’t help but compare.
The roster of characters this time was much larger and much more anticipated specially with Shishio’s Juppongatana and the arrival of Aoshi Shinomori.The film this time focused on Kenshin and his battle with being a slasher and being a believer of peace much similar to the first movie but this time with much more emphasis on the result of his ongoing struggle. The plot was changed lightly but the small changes would draw on major changes in the final film.
The fight scenes once again lived up to the expectation of the audience: not too CGI heavy and not so realistic. It’s the perfect blend of what a live action samurai movie would’ve been minus the extremely impossible action sequences and stunts. I particularly enjoyed Kenshin and Sojiro’s first fight. It was actually a beautiful thing to watch, a work of art in a fight scene museum. The movie captured the disappointment in Kenshin’s eyes as he knew he could’ve died at the hands of Shishio’s strongest henchman.
The movie was good overall except for the scene where Kenshin departs Tokyo and was set to leave Kaoru. The anime (both series and OVA) made it as an iconic image in the series but the movie reduced it to simple standards. I was disappointed then since this happened early in the film. I’m sure it was done at night with fireflies all around them. Kaoru even tried to stop Kenshin but he simply walked away with Kaoru’s face full of shock that her love for him could not stop him from his quest. I was expecting a very heartbreaking scene but it was lackluster. Loyal fans would surely nitpick on this one as being the films hamartia.
I’ll give this film 9/10. I’d give this a 10 but the departure scene lacked the sorrow fans felt in the anime series. Regardless, I’m a certified fan of the trilogy and I can’t wait for the last film of the series.
UPDATE (August 21 2014 14:47 PM GMT+8)
“When the movie starts, there’s not really a lot of time that passed from the last part, so their love is not yet really there, it’s just a very new thing…Which is why, of course as a director, I want you know dramatic scenes, those emotional scenes…that is also something I also like to create,” says Mr. Otomo.
“But I feel that if you go through the arc of the movie, it doesn’t – it’s not consistent with how the actual movie situation is, and of course, I had to be true to the movie, which is why I did not – I chose not to get into a very dramatic scene for that.”