Saturday, September 20, 2014

'Rurouni Kenshin 3': May the legend not end here

It felt so good it was bad. 

That's exactly how I felt when the last frame of Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends--a close-up of the beautiful and peaceful face of Kenshin Himura--became black. Could it be the last time I'll see it in big screen?

As the epic conclusion to director Keishi Otomo's trilogy, there's nothing else I and the legion other fans around the globe could ask for. Except for, to hopefully wait for the return of Kenshin, effectively portrayed by actor Takeru Satoh, to big screen.


Takeru Satoh as Kenshin Himura
 (ALL PHOTOS FROM WARNER BROS. PICTURES)
From the first to the third film, the Rurouni Kenshin saga made a genius and breathtaking live-action adaptation of the manga by author and illustrator Nobuhiro Watsuki. 

In Rurouni Kenshin 3, the much-anticipated battle between Kenshin and his nemesis Shishio Makoto (Tatsuya Fujiwara) takes place, as conclusion to the manga's Kyoto Arc. It opens right after the theatrical run of the second installment Kyoto Inferno.


Will the master teach his disciple the ultimate sword style?
RK3 begins with Kenshin being saved by his master Hiko Seijuro (Fukuyama Masaharu) who fortunately founds him on the shore after being separated with Kaoro Kamiya (Emi Takei) in the vast sea.  

With a mission to stop Shishio's evil plan to overrun Japan, Kenshin begs his master to teach him the ultimate style of their sword technique.

But even before he gets to face Shishio, Kenshin must also defeat other tough opponents including Shinomori (Yusuke Iseya) and Sojiro Seta (Ryunosuke Kamiki). The protagonish also gets to deal with a bunch of Tokyo Police for a light break in the overall brutal and bloody film.

Speaking of action, credit and praise must be given to Kenji Tanigaki, who was responsible for it! Working previously for Chinese action star Donnie Yen, he was able to make legit samurai action that Hollywood can never copy.

His vision, coupled with Otomo's, made American contemporary films with samurai themes like The Last Samurai and 47 Rounin amateurish in terms of sword fighting.

Kenshin vs. Sojiro. Can Kenshin match Sojiro's speed?
For me, Tanigaki's work is best seen not in the final battle between Kenshin and Shishio, rather between Kenshin and Sojiro, who is the considered the speediest samurai in Japan. While the two first faced off in RK2, their fight in RK3 was even more jaw-dropping. Sometimes, the moves were just too fast they're hard to follow. 

Another must-watch is the square-off between the Master Hiko and disciple Kenshin. 

With all these said, I'm sure Ruruoni Kenshin producers are so proud of creating a breakthrough in action cinema. In production notes released by Warner Bro. Philippines, it said: "It’s not just the actors doing wire work on the Rurouni Kenshin sets: the cameras are suspended from wires, too. . . The camera moving together with the performers brings a heightened sense of realism to the scene."

It added: "Rurouni Kenshin is an action movie with a unique sense of timing. The secret to this is ‘point of view’, the relationship between the camera and the actors at any particular time.  This makes for tremendously absorbing shots that put the audience right in the thick of the action."

Executive producer Hiroyoshi Koiwai also noted: "In the new films, the action has more of a 'documentary' quality to it in that the actors are doing more of their own stunts."

So sugoi to Takeru and the rest of his co-actors, particularly Munetaka Aoki who plays the role of Sanosuke Sagara, Kenshin's trusted ally. Why? Because in his Manila visit last month, he revealed that he lost a tooth during shooting! 

All his efforts did pay off in the RK3 because he gratefully provided the comedic reliefs just like in the first two movies. I don't know, for some reason, every time he was in a scene, no matter how action-packed it appeared, it would just elicit laughter from the viewers! So that even if I was not supposed to laugh, I would! Hahaha!

Bless you Munetaka Aoki, aka Sanosuke for providing the laughs
Of course, acting wise, one cannot ignore the compassion and dedication Takeru, our Samurai X in the flesh, gave his character. He breathed life into Kenshin and made it his own. 

I would never forget how he described his relationship with the character when he was here in Manila. He said, "Even now that filming is over, I’m still reacting to Kenshin. As I got deeper and deeper into the character, I became more and more attached to him. It’s like he’s a close friend who lives inside of me. He’s a friend that I love, that I want to protect, that I don’t want to let go. That’s how strongly I feel about him.”

For that, domo arigato Takeru-san. You made every fan girls and fan boys' dreams come true. 

Kaoro happy to see Kenshin alive
As how Kenshin and Kaoru will be reunited again in RK3, viewers must have to wait until the later part. But no fuss because they will be rewarded, even if display of affection is very limited. No hug, moreover a kiss, this time. Perhaps this is being true to the Meiji Era when women are still very much reserved. 

Takeru, Munetaka, Emi and the director all joined the Manila-promotional tour of RK2 and 3 last month. 

Ruruoni Kenshin is indeed ending soon. But I am confident that if we fans, clamored for another arc of the manga to be made into movie(s) too, so strong and passionate, producers will heed to our call once more. 

A week before its showing, I was invited to the advance screening of Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends by Warner Bro. Philippines. It officially opens in nationwide cinemas on September 24. 

The epic battle between Kenshin and his evil nemesis, Shishio 
Here are more interesting trivia from the prod notes of back-to-back Kyoto Inferno and The Legend Ends:
  • A budget of 3 billion yen. A six-month shoot. A cast of 5,000.
  • There were more than 30 locations scattered over 10 different prefectures in Japan, from Yamagata in the north to Kumamoto in the south
  • Kenshin alone had over 100 costumes. The changing colors of his costumes play a part in the story, expressing his changing emotional state. He begins at the Kamiya Dojo in red, changing to navy blue as he comes closer to his original "Battosai" killer self, and then to the white of atonement. By the end he is back to his original red.
  • Approximately 2,000 logs were used in Shishio's powerful, first appearance. The fiery blast furnace symbolizes Shishio’s gigantic ambition, and the incredible power with which he is prepared to discard everything and advance. 
  • "Purgatory," the giant warship, where the story comes to its climax, is a truly enormous set that took five months to plan and build. 120 meters long and 20 meters wide, it is modeled from the largest French, British, and Russian battleships of the time.
  • On why show the two-part Kyoto Arc one after the other, executive producer Hiroyoshi Koiwai  explained, "Of course, if the first film hadn't been a success, there would be no second one. But the fact is that even at that point, I wanted to make a sequel. [So] when we started, we realized that there was too much volume in the manga’s ‘Kyoto Inferno’ section to make it into one movie. Since we were following up on a big hit, we thought, 'What the hell, let’s make the sequel into a Part 1 and Part 2.'" 
May director Keish Otomo and producers
team up again for a new Ruruoni Kenshin saga!

4 comments:

  1. Hoping for the Revenge Arc next? Tweet to @warnerjp using the hashtags #RurouniKenshin, #JinchuuArc, #JinchuuHen, #RevengeArc and #人誅 to show our desire for a live adaptation of this neglected arc.

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