Rurouni Kenshin is about a famed killer known as "Battosai". A killer who's been busy cutting down a bloody path towards Japan's new age of peace and prosperity. Fighting to push for the transition from the ruling Samurai era to a more modern (Western) era. When Kenshin's (Battosai) cause is won on the battlefield, Kenshin then reverses the blade on his sword and vows never to kill again. After ten years of peace, Kenshin (Takeru Satoh) saves the last remaining heir to a fencing school, Kaoru Kamiya (Emi Takei). Kaoru has been looking for a man calling himself "Battosai" and has been slaughtering people in the name of her school. Which has led to a crippling downturn in students because of the reputation of the school, and since the necessity of "fencing" is no longer as valuable as it once was. Kaoru is forced with the prospect of having to sell her family business to an unscrupulous businessman if she can't turn things around. Though Kenshin has no intention of getting drawn into any squabble, the businessman has amassed himself an army of rogue samurai and strong warriors to help him distribute a new kind of opium called "Spiderweb" and to control the new Japan that Kenshin had fought for all those years.
Rurouni Kenshin is a cinematic adaption of the manga series. I was glad to see that the production values were high, as opposed to the adaption of "Death Note", for example. The "Death Note" adaptions had TV production values written all over them, but Rurouni Kenshin is of a noticeably much higher standard. Takeru Satoh was exceptional as Kenshin, speaking very little, but expressing a lot. I haven't read the manga, so I can't comment on how accurate or faithful of an adaption it was, but it felt like it was in the same spirit as the manga. At least from what I know of it. The villains all had an aura of intrigue and menace to them, although the businessman was laughably over the top. All he needed was a mustache to twirl, but maybe that's how he was in the manga. So if that was the case... job well done, lol. Saito (Yosuke Eguchi) played a good part as Kenshin's former enemy who now finds themselves on the same side, but I did want to see more interactions between the two of them.
The soundtrack detracted from the tone of the movie I thought. I would have gone for some more traditional sounds, this is a samurai movie after all, but they went more modern, and I didn't feel like it worked. The swordplay and choreography was inconsistently good, but occasionally frustrating too. The showdown between Kurogasa and Kenshin had its moments, but was a little underwhelming overall. Especially since Kurogasa owned every scene he was in. I was expecting more from their duel. The pacing of the movie was quite slow in parts, and it felt overlong as well. I was getting bored towards the end. Probably due to the director trying to cram in as much material as possible to turn it into a coherent movie.
I knew that one of the things that would annoy me, even before I started watching the movie, was the old trope of a killer who's laid down his weapon. It's the same thing that sometimes annoys me in comics. How many (fictional) people have had to die because Batman refuses to kill The Joker? Probably thousands. They're quixotic ideals, and events certainly were convenient for Kenshin so he and his comrade wouldn't be seen to kill anyone. The street fighter who wields a blade that's bigger than he is, but it's (conveniently) blunt so it can't cut anyone anymore, and the numerous ways Kenshin avoided having to take a life again. Once, maybe even twice, I thought Kenshin circumvented his rule quite smartly, but when he's literally fighting against a few hundred people, things get ridiculous pretty quickly. The idealistic notions of Kaoru proclaiming that the "sword brings life" was also painfully naive. Maybe it could be said that studying fencing can bring purpose to life, but not life itself. Rurouni Kenshin was a good movie, I don't know about adaption, but it never lived up to the excitement of the first 10-15 minutes. It all went downhill after its strong opening, albeit slowly, and it was a minor dip overall. I hope the sequels can tighten up the pacing, expand on the character development, dial back on the slow motion, and showcase some more intense fights. Also, I'm not holding my breath on this one, but I hope Kenshin will kill once again. It's not that I want him to be a bad guy, but I want him to do what needs to be done.
Written by - The Sentry - 26/08/2017