Trailers, features and behind-the-scenes footage for Studio Swan's Rurouni Kenshin adaptation all looked promising but does the film actually deliver what it's advertising? Why, yes it does, Rurouni Kenshin matches the source material more closely than any other comic book or anime based film to date. [Spoiler Free Review]
|Emi Takei as Kaoru and Takeru Sato as Kenshin.|
When it comes to anime/manga adaptation, the U.S. has a less-than-stellar track record with films like Dragonball: Evolution and Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li. Many fans insist that Hollywood should just leave anime adaptations to their Far East counterparts. While I've generally found myself on the opposite side of that sentiment, Rurouni Kenshin goes a long way towards supporting the other side of the argument. Possessing a strong following in Japan and a devoted fanbase in America thanks to its Toonami run, Rurouni Kenshin should please both hardcore fans and first-time viewers alike. Watching the film, it was as if Takeru Sato (Kenshin), Munetaka Aoki (Sanosuke), Emi Takei (Kaoru) and Yû Aoi (Megumi) stepped out of the anime, each of the main actors channeled the core elements of their respective character admirably. However, in a crowd of strong performances, it's Teryuki Kagawa's turn as the villainous Kanryuu Takeda that steals the show. Kagawa plays Takeda with equal amounts of malice and quirkiness which keeps him from being a one-dimensional antagonist.
While the acting performances are great, if you're watching a film adaptation of Rurouni Kenshin then you're watching for the action. The film does not disappoint. If you're a connoisseur of martial arts films then sword-fights take on a repetitive feel after a while. However, this film features swordplay that's fresh and fluid, making for some of the best sword-fights I've ever seen in a film. And make no mistake, the film puts swordplay front and center and lets everything else fall where it may.
|Kenshin and Sanosuke definitely took care of business in the film.|
Rurouni Kenshin is one of the more complete films to be released in 2012. Yes, there are certain elements better than others but there are no glaring weaknesses. Everything from the editing and cinematography to the costumes and sets are cleverly executed. When the credits roll and the end song plays, you'll definitely be thinking about where the film can go in sequel. Hopefully, the next entry will have a larger theatrical run in the U.S.
Synopsis: In 1868, after the end of the Bakumatsu war, the former assassin Kenshin Himura promises to defend those who need without killing and wanders through Japan with a sword with inverted blade during the transition of the samurai age to the New Age. When Kenshin helps the idealistic Kaoru Kamiya from the gangsters of the powerful opium drug lord Kanryuu Takeda that wants her school for his production of opium, Kaoru invites Kenshin to stay in the school. But the drug chemist Megumi Takani escapes from Kanryuu and seeks shelter in the school. Meanwhile the killer Battosai is murdering police officers and leaving messages attached to their bodies. When the cruel Kanryuu poisons the population to get the school, and Kenshin and the street fighter Sanosuke Sagara join forces to attack their common enemy.