Friday, October 31, 2014

Rurouni Kenshin, The Legend (Should Not) Ends (Like This)

Keywords: samurai, assassin, action, early Meiji
Audience: PG-13
Violent content: lots of fights and some blood
Sexual content: none

This is the third live-action movie for Rurouni Kenshin, and it is supposed to be the last. I'd heard some complains about how cheesy this movie is. That was half the reason why I didn't look forward to it as much as Kyoto Inferno. I can hardly remember a thing from the manga or anime. Even I can't recall the ultimate fight between Kenshin and Shishio very well, but Shishio's fire and his girlfriend's act of love. So I just hoped the movie would entertain me and Kenshin would win in a satisfying way.

[spoilers ahead]

In the previous movie (Kyoto Inferno), Kaoru was kidnapped by Shishio's men. They brought her to an ironclad battleship where Shishio had been preparing themselves to attack Tokyo. Kaoru was thrown to the sea, and Kenshin jumped along to save her. A minute later we found out that Kenshin was stranded on a beach.

In Legend Ends, Kenshin woke up in a shanty full of potteries. His sword was with him--shouldn't his savior be afraid and keep the sword away? It turned out that Kenshin was saved by the man who named him "Kenshin" (his real name was Shinta), his own instructor. Kenshin asked--cried--his instructor to teach him the ultimate technique of their style. This is the beginning of Kenshin's too long fight with his inner self.


The movie delivers how Samurai X is about life and death and guilt and atonement. I love how they preserve Nobuhiro Watsuki's (the mangaka) view of how the so-called peace is born out of countless killings, that the government is too dirty.

Compared to the second movie, Legend Ends explores more about Kenshin's personality development rather than showing off awesome fights between the characters. I wish they had aimed for a better balance between the two.

I finally see how Aoshi fit in this arc. Aoshi had been broken since his first appearance in Kyoto Inferno, and then Kenshin become broken since he lost to Sojiro Seta. They finally fought when Kenshin had healed himself; the fight was meant to tell us how Kenshin, from then on, knew what to do with his life (because he told Aoshi that).

Shishio only did two things: terrorized the government officials and fought Kenshin in the end of the movie. Have you seen Roaring Currents? There you'll see how strong the Japanese navy was. And then they were afraid to Shishio's one battleship? It did look like something from the Fire Nation--Avatar Aang--but still... Shishio had only ONE.

Shishio wanted Kenshin to be executed by the government. So the higher-ups sent people to arrest him. Knowing his "old friends" in the government, Kenshin let them do their job. With Kaoru's being teary behind the gate, Kenshin was going to be executed--the legend (of the great battosai) ends here. Of course this is the twist. But they couldn't be more obvious about it!


And the ultimate fight that we all had been waiting for... was disappointing. It started quite intriguing. Kenshin almost lose, and I waited for him to come back, but then he got some help. Not one, but three other characters joined the fight, ganging up on Shishio. Aoshi, Saito, Sanosuke, Kenshin against one sick Shishio. I thought, what is this? Power Ranger?

For real, I would accept everything else if this one fight is fine. But it is not. The legend should not end like this.

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