It feels like a long time since Keanu Reeves woke up in The Matrix and announced ” I know kung-fu.” It’s also been awhile since we’ve heard anything about Reeves’ 47 Ronin, a big-budget adaptation of a classical account of samurai avenging their master.

The production was famously plagued with issues, including a price tag that ballooned to 225 million and director Carl Rinsch removed from the project’s final stages. Originally set for a release date of last Thanksgiving, Universal has showed some gumption and intends to release it on Christmas Day this year. That’s two weeks after Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, and feels like a serious gamble in terms of the studio hoping to recoup the considerable budget. Finally, we have our first good look at the movie and what we can expect from Reeves and the rest of the cast, including Hiroyuki Sanada, Ko Shibasaki and Rinko Kikuchi.

While there’s nothing here that suggests it’s going to be the kind of powerhouse that will allay fears and make Jim Cameron style cash, there’s plenty of fantasy silliness to enjoy in the trailer, including marauding beasts, sorceresses turning into dragons, and all manner of eccentric warrior freaks battling it out in comic-book style warfare. There looks to be about as much historical consideration for the source material as there was for the Battle of Thermopylae witnessed in Zack Snyder’s 300. I smell a flop, but if we’re lucky this will be a tasty slice of martial arts action that will have a fine future of Saturday afternoon matinee repeats.

Here’s the official plot synopsis:

“After a treacherous warlord kills their master and banishes their kind, 47 leaderless samurai vow to seek vengeance and restore honor to their people. Driven from their homes and dispersed across the land, this band of Ronin must seek the help of Kai, a half-breed they once rejected, as they fight their way across a savage world of mythic beasts, shape-shifting witchcraft and wondrous terrors. As this exiled, enslaved outcast becomes their most deadly weapon, he will transform into the hero who inspires this band of outnumbered rebels to seize eternity.”

Check out four character posters and the new trailer below.

What do you think? Is 47 Ronin headed to be an end of the year surprise, or is it on its way to join The Warrior’s Way and Man with the Iron Fists in modern martial arts obscurity?





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