It’s not like he’s part of a remake or update of a Kenji Mizoguchi film, but…oh, shit. He is. Keanu Reeves is now a part of the upcoming new version of The 47 Ronin, scripted by Wanted co-writer Chris Morgan. Not that this will actually look or feel like a remake of Mizoguchi’s film from 1941…or Hiroshi Inagaki’s from 1962, or Kon Ichikawa’s from 1994.
The Ako Vendetta of 1701/2 is one of the most storied events in Japanese history. In broad strokes, a group of samurai became ronin after a conflict with a court official led their lord to seppuku. A year of planning commenced, after which the ronin took revenge on the official, then each committed seppuku. The story has been adapted to every possible media, and into many many films beyond the ones which explicitly cite the original events.
But none of that matters — the important detail here is that Reeves is on board because he’s half Asian, and therefore uniquely suited to play a part. (He’s Chinese-Hawaiian, not Japanese, but details are so unimportant.) Since the film is said to be inspired by both recent epic fantasy and the fight scenes of Gladiator, I wouldn’t expect the racial fidelity to mean very much. Rather, I expect a movie about swords and grimaces, and close-ups of eyes tortured by honor and destiny.