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Rurouni Kenshin (2012)
"Rurôni Kenshin: Meiji kenkaku roman tan" (original title)

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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 13,290 users  
Reviews: 52 user | 49 critic

In 1868, after the end of the Bakumatsu war, the former assassin Kenshin Himura promises to defend those in need without killing. Kenshin wanders through Japan with a reverse-edged sword ... See full summary »

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Title: Rurouni Kenshin (2012)

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

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Takeru Satô ...
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Yôsuke Eguchi ...
Munetaka Aoki ...
Taketo Tanaka ...
Kôji Kikkawa ...
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Storyline

In 1868, after the end of the Bakumatsu war, the former assassin Kenshin Himura promises to defend those in need without killing. Kenshin wanders through Japan with a reverse-edged sword 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 Kanryuu poisons the population to get the school, Kenshin and the street fighter Sanosuke Sagara join forces to attack their common enemy. Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

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Action | Drama | History

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25 August 2012 (Japan)  »

Also Known As:

Rurouni Kenshin  »

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2.35 : 1
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Based on the manga Rurouni kenshin See more »

Connections

Followed by Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno (2014) See more »

Soundtracks

No More Heroes
Written by: Slash,Myles Kennedy and Eric Valentine
Performed by: Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators
Dik Hayd
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User Reviews

 
Opting for a more down-to-earth feel than the original manga or the anime, this live-action adaptation is as cool and exciting as samurai movies get
26 November 2012 | by (Singapore) – See all my reviews

Relying on the familiar narrative of a warrior who tries to shed his violent past in pursuit of a peaceful existence, this live-action adaptation of the highly popular manga and anime series (sometimes known as 'Samurai X') based on the well-known Civil War hero Himura Kenshin makes one wonder why there aren't more of such films coming out of Japan. To say it is good is an understatement, because director Keishi Otomo's film really is a rip-roaringly entertaining samurai movie that packs a riveting punch.

We'd have to admit that we aren't acquainted with Nobuhiro Watsuki's original shonen manga nor the anime series that followed, so we won't be able to inform fans of the former or the latter if this adaptation stays close to its source material. From what we have gathered though, Otomo – who co-wrote the screenplay with Kiyomi Fujii – has taken from the first two story arcs of the series, namely Kenshin's vendetta with an opium dealer during the early years of the Meiji Restoration as well as his harrowing past during the Civil War that led to the cross-shaped scar on his face.

When we are first introduced to Kenshin, it is already the deciding battle of the revolution - the battle of Toba-Fushima in 1868 – and amid stark sobering scenes of bloodshed and death, Kenshin, better known as the fearsome 'Battosai the Killer', slices the last remaining cohorts of the Shogunate. As news spreads of the Emperor's victory, Kenshin is content to ditch his sword for the solitary life of a wanderer – even as his fellow samurai, Jin'e (Koji Kikkawa), warns him that a samurai lives and dies by the blade.

Ten years later, Kenshin has pretty much managed to live his choice of seclusion, before running one day into Kaoru (Emi Takei). Kaoru runs the fencing school left to her by her father, a school whose name has however been vilified for being that of 'Battosai' widely believed to be responsible for a string of murders around Tokyo. A psychopathic warrior who manages to escape death from Kenshin's blade in the battle has assumed the name of 'Battosai' and now goes about doing the bidding for the ruthless businessman Kanryu (Teruyuki Kagawa).

Rapacious for power, Kanryu amasses his own private army of ex-samurai, most of them he wills into his service by getting them hooked on a special brand of opium he develops with reluctant pharmacist Megumi (Yu Aoi). Kenshin is forced to revisit his deadly ways when Kaoru, whom he develops an affection to, is threatened first by a sudden run-in with Battosai and later on when Megumi seeks refuge from Kanryu's men at the dojo. The only difference? Kenshin now fights with a 'reverse sword', or simply one with the sharp edge reversed.

Truth is, you can pretty much guess where the story is headed, but what makes the movie so enjoyable is the exhilarating fight choreography from action director Kenji Tanigaki. Indeed, the best parts are when we see Kenshin wielding his sword against numerous other opponents, even without the benefit of a lethal blade. Tanigaki ensures that the action is never repetitive, and each sequence boasts its own balletic rhythm to keep you engrossed. Unlike some wuxia films, Tanigaki also opts for a realistic style even with the requisite wirework, offering his audience the spectacle of fluid and furious swordplay without the exaggerated embellishments.

In between the clashing of swords, Otomo stages confidently the bond that develops between Kenshin and Kaoru. Rather than conforming their relationship to some formulaic romance, both characters are allowed to play out a more complex relationship that is entwined with Kenshin's own demons from the past. And in that regard, it is fortunate that both Sato and Takei are better actors than to resort to the melodramatic trappings of TV romances where both hail from, with both performers also sharing a graceful chemistry with each other.

That they are able to deliver such nuanced performances is also to Otomo's credit, who directs the movie with an assured hand. Rather than the slapstick humour we are told is part and parcel of Kenshin's character in the manga, Otomo opts for a more down to earth portrayal, so even the light heartedness is never overplayed. Similarly, Otomo drops the exposition on the various schools and techniques of kenjitsu, and keeps to having some other character name the cool-sounding move that Kenshin executes whenever it is expedient.

It is inevitable given its origins that fans of the manga and anime will bring their expectations to bear on this live-action version. Nonetheless, in going for a more true-to-life feel, this adaptation is, in our opinion, all the better for it. It's not one of those Yoji Yamada samurai movies, nor is it anywhere close to Takashi Miike's '13 Assassins', but this is solid blockbuster entertainment with universal themes of pacifism, vengeance and love packed with a distinct Nippon flavour.


15 of 23 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Great adaptation, like it or not. bw-patterson
Thoughts on the action choreography shogo10
On DVD yet, or to screen in the USA?? bintyfix
Petition to have RK shown US Nationwide! goodolsgrl
Two Part Sequel Tequillla
Trust + Betrayal gantz8596
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