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Spoiler section!

Rundown of the movie (as well as I can remember given you know, I was watching it in the moment, but also trying to remember the order). Fair warning. There be spoilers ahead. There be extensive spoilers ahead. Possibly more than you want to know. Think carefully. I have basically summarised the movie. Read at your own risk. Seriously. Want to be surprised as the movie unfolds? Don't read this.


The movie opens with a narrator setting the scene, telling us how feudal Japan is structured and telling us that witchcraft and demons exist here. A young boy (Kai) is running through the woods, escaping from the Tengu in the forest, and he collapses. He is found by Oishi, whose first reaction is to kill him. Lord Asano of Ako stops him, tells him he is a boy and brings him back with them to live in Ako, against the advice of his Samurai. Lord Ako and his daughter Lady Mika see something in Kai that they do not. They nurse him back to health and he and Lady Mika develop a friendship that crosses the boundaries of their respective positions. In one scene young Kai and Mika are in the forest together, he has tracked a deer for her. One of the golden ornaments from her hair falls, and he picks it up. She tells him to keep it. Kai wishes to serve Ako in any capacity they allow.


Cut to present time, Kai is tracking a “beast” in the forest, and advises Oishi that it is ahead of them, and the wiser course is to set a trap. Oishi reports to Lord Asano that the beast is ahead, and Asano orders the samurai to attack. Cue set scene where a large beast takes on a hunting party of samurai and it is the samurai who come off the worse for wear, and the mysterious appearance of a white wolf with mismatched eyes. Kai saves the life of one of the Samurai, Yasuno, and the day by killing the beast with a Samurai sword. Yasuno tells Kai he would rather have died than been saved by him, the halfbreed. Lord Asano assumes that Yasuno was responsible for killing the beast, and thanks him. Oishi notices that Kai's hands are covered in blood and says nothing.


Oishi Chikara (squee) hurriedly enters the castle to tell Lady Mika that the Hunting party has returned. They rush to the courtyard, and Asano assures Mika the beast has been dealt with, she asks if anyone was hurt, and in turn he asks who she is looking for.


Mika tells him about the preparations for the Shogun's visit, and Asano tells her she has done well and her mother would be proud of her.


Oishi returns and is warmly greeted by his wife, Riku. In the courtyard Chikara is sparring with someone and Riku tells Oishi that Chikara has been training really hard in order to make him proud.


The white wolf enters another castle and transforms into a woman, the witch Mizuki.


Lord Kira owns this castle, and Mizuki reports to him that Lord Asano still lives and their plan failed. He is enraged, feeling slighted that the Shogun plans to visit Ako while his family placed the Shogun in power. Mizuki calms him by suggesting there is another way to kill Asano and also humiliate him, by striking while the Shogun is there. She suggests Asano's weakness is his daughter.


Mizuki visits Kai, to check whether he is wounded. She sees his back is injured and tends his wounds, while they discuss the hunt. She noticed the Samurai Yasuno had shame in his eyes and Kai replies that he only wishes to serve. Mika implies that Kai should fight to be treated better, and Kai tells her that they have different places in this world, regardless of their feelings, and sends her back to the castle.


The Shogun arrives and among his retinue, Kai notices the witch Mizuki. He goes to Oishi, to report that a witch has entered their castle. Oishi doesn't listen, telling him he has been bewitched by a pretty girl as only demons can see witches in their true form.

Kira arrives, and while greeting Asano manages to insult Mika by referring to her as Asano's concubine. Entertainment, including a battle between two samurai champions is planned. Kira's champion, a massive Samurai in silver armour walks out and waits. In the tents, Yasuno, the Ako champion has been bewitched by Mizuki. Chikara finds him, and Kai overhears him calling Yasuno's name. Kai tells Chikara to get his father, but Chikara says there is not enough time, that only a samurai can fight for Ako.


The Shogun grows weary of waiting, just as the red armoured Samurai from Ako enters the arena. He is visibly outmatched by his opponent. They are handed swords and the fight begins (and a short reveal of a lovely Chikara appearing from behind the tent to watch the fight happens and Jin is luminous #shallow). Kai tries, but is struck hard by his opponent and loses his helmet. His identity is exposed before everyone, and the Shogun orders the fight to stop as he is no samurai.


The Shogun orders he be killed, and Mika throws herself in front of Kai on her knees. Asano kneels beside her and tells the Shogun that the law of Ako is that only men can be punished by death, not animals. He takes full responsibility. The Shogun stares, then turns to Oishi who demands that Kai be stripped of his armour and beaten. Asano grabs Mika and drags her into the castle.


Oishi does as he was instructed and cuts the armour from Kai, who then kneels down on all fours. He is surrounded by samurai who beat him harshly with wooden staffs. Chikara is visibly upset by this but does not interfere. Finally, the Samurai Basho steps forward, tells Kai he is sorry then strikes him with full strength. Kai collapses.


Mika tries to explain, but Asano refuses to listen to her apologies, and shuts the door in her face. Oishi sees this.


Mizuki speaks to Kira of how he can have everything he desires...and how that requires them to be bound together by magic. She uses her magic and something in Kira's blood to create a bond, which allows her to create a spider to further their plans. She creeps into Asano's bedroom using her magic, and releases the spider. It poisons Asano's mind; he wakes in a fog of confusion, hearing Mika screaming for help. He searches for her, and finds her being violently attacked by a man (pretty safe assumption the attack is rape). Asano raises his sword and strikes the man with it, the sword cuts the back of his kimono but doesn't seriously injure him.


Kira's guards rush into the room, followed by Oishi and Mika. As Mika calls for him, and Oishi takes the sword from him, the cloud in his eyes disappears. Oishi realises he has been bewitched. The Shogun arrives and surveys the scene.


The next day, the Shogun pronounces that Asano has broken the law by attacking an unarmed guest in his house, and the punishment for such an offence is death. Due to his rank and service, the Shogun allows Asano to commit seppuku (death by his own hand.)


Asano tells Oishi that he will accept the punishment, as it means that Ako will be safe. He asks Oishi to protect Mika and the people
of Ako, and to act as his second as he commits seppuku. Oishi tries to convince him not to, but Asano is determined.


Dressed in a stark white kimono, Asano walks through his castle for the last time. Everyone kneels as he passes. Mika stops him, and he tells her not to let them see her cry. A small area has been enclosed with white panels, and the Shogun and the castle's population are gathered to see the punishment carried out. Asano and Oishi enter, and follow the procedures necessary, cleansing the sword with water. Asano opens his kimono and pulls his shoulders and chest free. He places a short letter beside him (his last words) and then picks up his short sword. He pierces his belly on the left, completing his required steps, and turns to Oishi who nods and beheads him.


The other Samurai look to Oishi to lead them against Kira, demanding vengeance for Asano. Oishi tells them if they strike immediately that they will lose, and that every farmer in Ako will also be killed. He says that they need to wait and make a plan.


Her maids bring poison to Mika, telling her it will end her pain. She refuses it, saying that they have not yet lost Ako.


The Shogun is ready to depart, and the Ako samurai walk through the castle, gathering in the courtyard to hear the Shogun's verdict. At Oishi's signal they kneel and place their swords on the ground before them. The Shogun announces that they are forbidden to seek vengeance for Asano's death, and that they are all now ronin, or masterless samurai. Lady Mika approaches the Shogun and asks that she be allowed to take charge of Ako until such time as she marries. The Shogun says that he has given the matter thought and that Kira will take charge of Ako and they will marry. Mika protests but she is unheard. The Shogun allows her one year of mourning after which she will marry Kira. He also places her in Kira's care, ensuring she leaves Ako.


Kira banishes the ronin from Ako, and orders Oishi, who is no longer protected by his rank, be thrown into the Pit to break his spirit. Kai is then dragged into the courtyard, and Kira tells Mika to look closely at him, as it will be the last time she sees him. As she watches he is dragged away.


Oishi is thrown into a deep dungeon, where he stays for the next year. When he is released, he is marched through the streets by Kira's men and then dumped in the rain. Chikara and Riku carry him to their home, and feed him. Riku tells him that his men have all left Ako, and that Lady Mika's year of mourning is almost over. Oishi asks what happened to Kai, and Chikara tells him that Kira had him sold into slavery on the Dutch ships. Oishi demands three horses immediately, and Chikara stands, bows and goes to do his bidding. Oishi tells Riku that she must make the entire world believe that she has divorced him, as that's the only way she can be safe. He insists that no one can know the truth; that she is the only joy in his life. She says she is the wife of a samurai, and while he does his duty, she will do hers. They embrace.


Chikara finds three horses and waits for his father's next command. Oishi hands him the short sword that Asano used to kill himself, and tells Chikara to seek out all the ronin, to go carefully as they will be watched.

Oishi heads to the Dutch ships, where he finds Kai being held as a fighter. We see Kai outmatched, but he fights and wins anyway. Oishi approaches him under the guise of being an opponent, and as they fight, Oishi talks to him telling him that he has come for him. Kai doesn't respond, obviously concentrating only on killing his opponent. As they fight, Kai traps Oishi who tells him that Mika needs his help. This gets through to Kai, and together they fight and manage to escape the ship.


On their journey, Kai asks why he came for him. Oishi says that he knew about the witch. Kai says he didn't listen to him, Oishi admits he should have. Oishi will not tell him what he plans but needs to know if Kai will follow him. Kai finally agrees to, but says if Oishi ever kneels before Kira again, he will kill him.


Kira is sparring with two of his men, using heavy wooden swords. Kira is holding them both off as Mika watches, then he knocks one unconscious. The other is stunned. Mika visibly recoils, and Kira beats the man unconscious then starts kicking him violently. A man arrives to tell Kira that Kai has escaped.


Chikara has managed to gather together the ronin, and Oishi praises him in a rare moment of paternal pride. The ronin are overjoyed to see Oishi, but not happy to see Kai. Kai and Chikara are obviously separate from the others, they sit together as Chikara cooks a meal of fish and rice and Oishi explains that he has a plan to kill Kira, but that it will end in their own death. The ronin agree to help. One demands to know why Kai is there as he is not samurai, and Oishi answers harshly that he is there because he asked him to be and that none of them are samurai now.


Oishi sends some of the ronin off to gather as many men as they can find, and sends them with his own sword, saying they will get more of them. He also sends Isogai to Kira's ancestral village, to track his movements. (Fun fact: Jin has said that he originally auditioned for the role of Isogai.) Oishi, Kai, Chikara and a few other ronin go to buy weapons, only to discover that Kira has taken control of the village. Kira's men see through their disguise of being farmers by checking Chikara's hands, which do not look like the hands of a farmer. Kai attacks them, and kills them quickly and efficiently. He tells the ronin to salvage what weapons that they can, and that they will need more. The ronin look on in shock.


Oishi considers other places to go for weapons, but Kai says all the nearby towns have been taken by Kira. He says that the only place to find the weapons is in the Tengu forest, which Oishi believes to be a myth. Kai insists that he has been there, and that they will test their will but may give them the weapons that they need. Oishi agrees to go there.


The same group goes into the forest, which is haunted by the spirits of the old and infirm who have been abandoned there to die, as well as unwanted children. As they enter, a voice speaks to Kai, saying they knew he would return.


Kai leads them through the forest to a temple, and says only Oishi may enter with him. The rest of the group remain outside. Inside the temple is a large statue and before it rows of monks in yellow robes are kneeling, heads pressed against the floor. Kai tells Oishi to wait, and no matter what happens, what he sees or what he hears, he must not draw his sword.


Kai confronts the chief Tengu in another room. Between them, a sword is standing upright. They discuss his background and why he has come. Kai asks will the Tengu help them? The Tengu says he will, if he can reach the sword before he does. This means Kai must use the magic taught to him by the Tengu, something he has vowed not to do. Meanwhile in the other room, Oishi looks around as the other members of the party disobey his orders and enter. As they do, the kneeling monks around them awaken and attack the ronin. They fight back, even as Oishi tells them not to fight, not to draw their swords. One by one, the ronin are injured and killed by the monks, until only Oishi and Chikara are left. As they stand together, the monks attack, separating them, and pulling Chikara away. As Oishi watches in horror, Chikara attacks and is swept up by a monk, pulling him up into the air. Oishi closes his hand on his sword, calling for his son. Chikara begins to fall, then disappears before he can hit the ground. In the other room, Kai has reached the sword first. As Oishi kept his word and didn't draw his sword, in front of each monk a Tengu bladed sword appears.


The party leaves the Tengu woods, and as they walk Basho asks what is so special about the swords. Kai says different people affect the swords differently and then demonstrates the cutting ability of the sword, by slicing through a tree branch without effort. Everyone stares and Basho tries to recreate the action. The sword lands against the tree branch with no effect. He saws at it a bit, then says his is broken. This is one of the few comedic moments in the entire movie.


Isogai is shown in a crowded building (possibly a tea house/brothel/izakaya) and he is pretending to be a rich merchant, whose wife is nagging him about seeing Lord Kira's procession to his family shrine. The town official brushes him off, telling him that Lord Kira travels in secret and not even his own men know when he will visit his family shrine. Isogai nods, and a young woman offers him a drink. He takes it and asks for her name. She replies Yuki and looks up at him with mismatched eyes.


They return to their camp and find the other ronin have returned with more men to help their cause. Their leader (whose name I haven't caught yet maybe Hara?) tries to return Oishi's sword to him, but Oishi tells him to keep it as they have been successful in finding more.


Isogai returns and tells Oishi that Kira plans to visit the shrine. Oishi orders the ronin to be ready, that they are about to attack. Chikara says that he wishes to go with them, and Oishi tells him no, that he is to stay there. They share a moment and Chikara nods, obviously unhappy but obedient. Oishi tells one of his ronin to also wait with Chikara. Kai is the other man in the room, he waits for Oishi to leave and then silently farewells Chikara with a touching moment where they silently acknowledge each other, saying goodbye.


Mizuki and Mika are sitting across from each other. Mizuki tells Mika to eat, and magically carries a pair of chopsticks holding a piece of salmon across the table to her. Mika recoils and refuses it, Mizuki shrugs telling her that she doesn't care if she eats or not, and that soon enough she will die.


Kira announces to his court that he will ride to his ancestors shrine to give thanks for their upcoming wedding. He asks Mika if she wishes him to ask for anything specifically, she says he will not like her answer. He grows angry and says that there children will be of the same blood and rides away.


Oishi and the ronin attach Kira's camp, sneaking through a wide field filled with empty wooden tent-like structures. In the centre we can see Kira, dressed in his usual extravagant purple and silver robes. As they approach, he turns and we see it is the witch Mizuki. It is a trap, she sets fire to the wooden tents around them, and Kira's men begin to fire arrows at the escaping ronin. Some die, including the ronin who holds Oishi's sword. Basho rescues Yasuno, but is hit by a number of arrows as he does so. Most of the ronin manage to escape, but some die on the field. In the wreckage Mizuki finds Oishi's sword.


Back at their camp, Chikara brings Kai a bowl of water as Kai tends Basho's wounds. He is clearly mortally wounded, and the ronin are devastated. Basho tells Kai he has a confession to make, that when he was a boy he used to wait outside Kai's hut and throw rocks at him under the cover of the trees. Kai tells him he already knew that, as he could see his belly poking out from behind the tree. Basho apologises, telling Kai he is a a good man. He dies as they tend his wounds.


Mizuki gives Kira Oishi's sword. They believe that Oishi is now dead, and that they have won.


Mizuki wakes Mika in the middle of the night, holding a knife to her throat. She taunts her by telling her that her halfbreed is dead. She runs the knife carefully over Mika' hair and body, telling her that she promised Kira to not harm a hair on her head, then slams the knife into the floor by Mika's head, telling her that what Mika does to herself is none of her concern. She slides away, leaving the knife in place, and leaves, pausing in the door to say good night as she draws her finger across her throat.


Oishi sits outside, blaming himself for the failed raid and the decision to wait to seek vengeance. He now thinks that the honourable thing to do would have been to strike immediately even if they died. Kai sits with him, telling him that they will find a way, especially as Kira believes them to be dead, which they can use to their advantage.


Chikara and Kai are outside, and Chikara is drawing water from a well. They notice a band of performers passing by, and Kai sends Chikara to fetch his father.


The ronin surround the performers, and their lead actor protests that they are not common performers to be stopped, but professionals on their way to perform at the marriage of Kira. Oishi says he knows, and the lead actor recognises him as one of Lord Asano's men. Oishi says he needs their help.


The ronin prepare for the upcoming battle. Yasuno approaches Kai and apologises for not thanking him for saving his life when the beast attacked, and for taking the credit for the kill. He offers him a samurai's sword, one that belonged to a samurai who had two souls. Kai accepts the sword.


Knowing that they will face certain death if they succeed in killing Kira, Oishi shows them a scroll where they have written their reasons for acting as they will. It is a testament as to why they are taking these actions, and taking responsibility for breaking the Shogun's order. He says that this must end in their death as well, so as to end the cycle of vengeance. Oishi signs his name first and then draws his sword, cuts his thumb and pressed the bloody finger print to the document. One by one the ronin come forward, sign their name and do the same. Finally only two remain, Chikara and Kai. Chikara steps forward, and with determination writes his name and signs in blood. He moves to stand with the others. Oishi asks Kai if he will join them, Kai steps forward writes his name and signs in blood. They stand together as Oishi holds the scroll aloft and says that they are now 47.


Mizuki sits with Kira, who asks if the omens are good. Mizuki smiles and says yes, that soon the people in the towns around them will cheer as he passes in the streets.


Using the performers arrival as a disguise, some of the ronin including Oishi, Chikara and Kai enter Kira's castle. The guards search the performers but allow them to enter. They set up for their performance, and as the troupe performs, the rest of the ronin use the distraction of the play to covertly enter the castle, killing sentries and taking their places. From inside the castle, Chikara shoots arrows to silently take out the inner courtyard sentries. Kai stands behind Mika and Kira while the play goes on, and Oishi is disguised on stage, ready to seize a hidden sword when the time is right and kill Kira. The ronin attack, and are on the verge of winning when one sentry takes longer to overcome. He shrugs off his attacker and takes aim at Oishi on stage. Chikara sees this and shoots at him. His arrow stops him, but not before he has aimed at Oishi. The arrow clips Oishi and he falls off stage, losing his disguise. Kira realises he is under attack, and retreats into the keep dragging Mika with him, as the ronin surge towards them.


Kai and Oishi manage to make it into the castle behind Kira and Mika, but the rest of the ronin are kept out. They battle with Kira's men including his huge silver armoured champion. Arrows and swords are used as they battle it out.

Kira tells his men to wait behind and stop the ronin as he drags Mika further into the castle. She pulls the knife from her sleeve and attacks him with it, as Kai and Oishi attack Kira's guards. Kira lets Mika go, and she runs away from him down the right hand corridor, while Kira escapes down the left. Kai follows Mika and Oishi follows Kira.


In the battle outside, the ronin are holding their ground. As the silver champion approaches, one of the ronin throws a lit torch into a weapons store and ignites barrels of gunpowder. They explode, killing the silver champion and blowing part of the castle apart.


Kai finds Mika in a walled courtyard. They embrace and Mika says she knew he would come for her. Kai promises that even if it took a thousand worlds and ten thousand lifetimes he would always look for her. The witch appears and threatens them. Kai says he is not afraid of her, and she says he should be. She transforms into a dragon and attacks them. Kai pushes Mika behind a stone lantern and holds the dragon off with the Tengu sword. At one point she breathes fire at them, and he slices the fire in two with the blade. She attacks again and again, and finally separates Kai from his sword. She turns towards Mika, and attacks. As she does so, Kai uses his Tengu fighting knowledge to get hold of his sword and attack the dragon, pushing his sword through its head. It collapses and dies, transforming back into Mizuki at the end.


Oishi chases Kira through the wooden hallways of the castle. They are searching for each other, until suddenly they pause. Oishi listens sensing that Kira is near when a sword suddenly pierces the wooden wall beside him. Kira is on the other side. Oishi retaliates and smashes his way through the wall, and attacks. They fight brutally, knowing it is to the death. Finally Oishi forces Kira to his knees and places the short sword that Asano used to kill himself against his belly. He says Know now the courage of my master Asano and forces the blade into Akira. He then beheads him.


Oishi carries the head of Kira out of the castle, and holds it aloft. The fighting stops, as Kira's men realise he is dead, and they kneel before Oishi. The ronin look up at the head and realise that they have won, that Kira is dead and that soon they will be too. Mika and Kai stand beside each other and Mika realises what they have done.


Oishi carries Kira's head through his province back to Ako, leading the ronin back home. When they enter Ako, the streets are lined with people waiting for them. Riku is there waiting, Oishi passes without acknowledging her as they had agreed. She sees Chikara and he stops in front of her. She embraces him, and they exchange silent glances. She strokes his face, realising that she has lost her son as well as her husband, and Chikara can't say anything to comfort her. He rejoins the ronin and Riku cries.


They lay the head and dagger at the grave of Asano, as he has been avenged.


The ronin are called before the Shogun, who says that they should be hanged like common criminals as he forbade them from attacking Kira. Oishi asks that his men be treated with respect as they are the bravest he has ever known. The Shogun acknowledges that although he forbade them from attacking Kira, in avenging Asano's death they were following the oldest and most honourable form of bushido. He says that he only sees samurai before him. The ronin are therefore allowed a samurai's death; they will commit seppuku together.


Mika and Kai sit quietly together, holding hands. Mika clutches his hand between hers, and holds it to her cheek. He promises again to always come for her, she promises to wait. They kiss.


Kai and Oishi sit together before Asano's grave. They have accepted their fate.


The 47 ronin are brought to the courtyard, dressed in pure white kimonos, and hair tied up. The Shogun and the court watch as they bow, and kneel in their places. They have not been granted seconds, each will commit seppuku by their own hand, and their death will be lingering and painful.


Together, they offer their final letters and place them neatly beside their short swords.


They open their kimonos, freeing their shoulders.


As the Shogun has ordered, they commit seppuku. Mika watches as Kai dies, and two tears run down her cheek.


Mika stands on a bridge holding Kai's letter. It is his promise to look for her even if it takes a thousand worlds and ten thousand lifetimes. In her other hand is the golden ornamental crane she gave him as a child.


The movie ends over a shot of the 47 ronin riding together, and the narrator telling us that the legend of the 47 ronin has come down through the centuries as one of the most important stories in Japanese culture as an example of honour, bravery and loyalty. The final scene is a note that every year on December 14, people from around the word gather to honour the memory of the 47 ronin, and that the film was inspired by their story.


So there you have it, one spoilerfic summary of the movie. Some of the small transition scenes with Kira and Mika may be slightly out of order, but I think I remembered to include all of them. If I didn't sorry, and I will amend the summary after a later viewing. Those of you who have seen the film will know that I have summarised most of the dialogue and skipped over a few things, so as to keep some things unspoiled and fresh for the first viewing, including one thing that I want you to think about before spoiling. Seriously. You know what I am talking about. Think about not spoiling that for people yet to see it, yes/yes?

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
chained_akame
Dec. 8th, 2013 10:19 am (UTC)
Thank you very much for this <3 I won't be able to watch this movie before Christmas and I had been waiting for it so long that it's really nice to have a better idea about the plot and be prepared for what to watch :D

And I'm not bothered by the fact that you didn't mention some things in order not to spoil XD It's pretty clever and considerate. Thank you once again!
islandgurl84
Dec. 10th, 2013 05:47 am (UTC)
thanks for the detailed summary. this will help me understand the movie better. reading it i got teary eye with chikara and his mom riku's sad farewell.
tommy50702
Mar. 10th, 2015 02:04 pm (UTC)
Why is Keanu Reeves always the chosen one? :D
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )