Keanu Reeves and ’47 Ronin’: Why Some Film Fans Say Flim Flam

Keanu Reeves Leads The Cast In '47 Ronin'

Keanu Reeves latest epic, 47 Ronin, is set to come out December 25. Some folks are excited. Some folks are angry

As Holden McNeil in Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back, Ben Affleck said it best:

“The Internet is a communication tool used the world over where people can come together to bitch about movies.”

While the 47 Ronin trailer leads us to believe the film with be full of martial arts action and special effects extrava-gasm, it also invokes the true axiom of entertainment, paraphrased from Abraham Lincoln: you can’t please everyone all of the time.

Generally, you would think epic films of revenge would make everyone happy. Inspired by actual historical events in feudal Japan? Even better!

So what’s the problem with 47 Ronin?

The main bone the ‘Net nerds have to pick with 47 Ronin is the casting, namely, Keanu Reeves. And it’s not that they don’t like him as an actor, it’s that he’s white, for all intents and purposes (mind you, Keanu was born in Lebanon and is of mixed heritage, including Chinese). Casting a Caucasian man in the lead role in 47 Ronin, a role that should clearly go to someone of Asian descent, is driving the movie geeks bonkers.

“Not gonna lie…” says Rotten Tomatoes user Will Tate, “This is kinda like letting a Japanese actor be Paul Bunyan.”


“At least The Last Samurai tried,” said user Mr_Mix_Master on the Internet Movie Database’s 47 Ronin discussion board. “As silly as the title sounds with the main character being played by Tom Cruise, TLS actually made an effort to explain how and why a white guy would be involved in a movie about the fall of the samurai. This is literally just substituting a character who should be Japanese (seeing as it’s roughly based on real events and it is stated that the makers tried to have a legit cast around Reeves) with a white guy while hoping we don’t notice.”

Fair point, maybe. But the question is, which is more important for 47 Ronin: seeing an entertaining, well-made movie or one with accurate casting? Why are people letting the main star’s ethnicity get in the way of enjoying a potentially great movie in 47 Ronin? Well, there are some in the movie community who can see the folly of such quibbling. User handofnod9587 summed up the issue of credibility best on the 47 Ronin discussion board on IMDB:

“In a universe of dragons, demons, and giant monsters, [people have] an issue with the inaccuracy of a white samurai.”

What do you think of the 47 Ronin trailer? Will Keanu Reeves’ whiteness keep you from enjoying 47 Ronin?