London — Or is it 1700″s Japan? Cherry blossoms erupt from the trees that line the courtyard of ‘Ako.” The Shogun”s warriors wear golden armor complete with grimacing masks that intimidate while they shine in the sun. It”s a sad scene, 47 Samurai are surrendering themselves to the Shogun. Soon they will be banished and become the “47 Ronin.”
It”s a spring morning at Shepperton Studios outside of London, and our small group of mostly American and mostly jet-lagged journalists is touring the production of “47 Ronin.” Most of us are approaching this project with a pretty blank slate.
Until this point, (June, 2011) the only news of the production that had reached the U.S. was from a London press conference announcing that Keanu Reeves and a mostly Japanese cast including Hiroyuki Sanada (The Wolverine) and Rinko Kinkuchi (Pacific Rim) would be starring in a westernized adaptation of a famous Japanese story of samurai loyalty and revenge based on real events that took place in the 1700″s.