47 Ronin ½

Possibly the second-worst thing to happen to Japan so far this century, “47 Ronin” is at once both a miserable movie and an extraordinary monument to how miserable the movie industry can be. An inherently problematic attempt to graft a gaijin savior onto the most famous episode of Japanese folklore, this latest example of Chushingura has been a notoriously troubled project from the beginning, when Universal provided director Carl Erik Rinsch with an absurd budget of $175 million for his first feature, only to see that figure balloon even higher as the film suffered a number of difficulties and delays during post-production. While it’s always prickly and often unwise to view a movie through the lens of its making, “47 Ronin” was stitched together with the seamless precision of Frankenstein’s monster, its various sutures so carelessly visible that the circumstances of the film’s creation are almost impossible to untangle from the film itself.

Nearly Brechtian in the extent to which its confrontational editing becomes the text, “47 Ronin” is flimflammed together with abrupt transitions, isolated moments, and several different varieties of whiteout. What casual or future viewers might be able to graciously dismiss as catastrophic ineptitude, we are burdened with the clarity to understand as a symptom of a greater problem, the lump identifying a cancer that has already spread too far.