Created on November 8, 2009
Updated on September 9 , 2011
On November 4, 2009 TOKYOGRAPH reported:
Warner Bros. produces new Chushingura film
It was announced on Tuesday that "Kita no Kuni Kara" director Shigemichi Sugita is working on a new movie adaptation of the
Chushingura story. The picture is being labeled as the first true Japanese film produced by the major American studio Warner Bros.
The Chushingura story recounts the mission of the Forty-seven Ronin to avenge their master. It has been fictionalized many times in
various media, from kabuki to literature to television. Sugita's version, titled "Saigo no Chushingura," is based on a novel by Shoichiro
Ikemiya and focuses on two survivors of the attack.
Koji Yakusho plays the warrior Seo Magozaemon, who flees on the night before the raid. Koichi Sato plays Terasaka Kichiemon, a
loyal retainer who goes into hiding after the attack. The two meet again sixteen years later. Narumi Yasuda has also been cast.
Ikemiya's novel was previously adapted as a six-episode drama series on NHK in 2004, starring Takaya Kamikawa and Teruyuki
The movie version is scheduled for release in 2011. Although Warner Bros. has been involved in the production of Japanese films
before, "Saigo no Chushingura" is said to be the first one by their local production division, featuring a completely Japanese staff and
I have just learned that "The Last Ronin" / "Saigo no Chushingura was shown during the Fantasia Film Festival in
Motreal (July 14 - August 7).
I have also learned that The Last Ronin was shown during " Japan Cuts 2011: The New York Festival of
Contemporary Japanese Cinema" ( July 7 - 22) as "East Coast Premiere".
Mr Rupert Bottenberg's description about this film (Fantasia International Film Festival) is quite impressive:
It's a legend but not a myth, the Chushingura that famous tale of the Ako fiefdom's 47 samurai who, to avenge
their lord's dishonour and forced suicide, plotted and executed a daring assault on the estate of his nemesis at the
turn of the 18th century. Their true story, emblematic of the Bushido code of honour and Japanese sense of loyalty,
discipline and sacrifice, has been adapted to print, stage and screen countless times. Having avenged their lord, their
code dictated that they collectively commit seppuku, or ritual suicide. Forty-six of the ronin did so. Only one,
Kichiemon Terasaka, was instructed to refrain, that he might bear witness to their bravery.
This engaging, speculative coda to the tale of the 47 ronin finds Terasaka 16 years later, nearing the end of his
journey. On his way to Kyoto for the annual memorial service, he crosses paths with a man who may be must be
Magozaemon Senoo, another of the Ako samurai who disappeared right before the fateful night of violence. Was
this simply cowardice? Betrayal? Or did this man, now living humbly and discreetly as an amiable antique dealer,
have a secret of his own? He shares his home with a young woman, Miss Kane, upon whom he dotes like a father.
Attending the puppet theatre she so loves (an added delight for the film's audience), Kane catches the eye of a
handsome young scion of a wealthy merchant clan. That which has been hidden for so long cannot remain so for
Poetic yet plainspoken, understated yet piercing in its poignancy, THE LAST RONIN stands in stark contrast to the
cold, cruel abstraction so common in the Japanese film genre called chanbara (literally, swordfighting movies). A
haunting and deeply humane work, it tugs at the threads of guilt, loneliness, affection, debt and desire that bind
together its characters, so richly evoked by an exceptional cast. Award-winner Koichi Sato (THE SHONEN
MERIKENSACK, SUKIYAKI WESTERN DJANGO) offers a moving turn as Terasaka, while Magozaemon is
magnificently portrayed by Koji Yakusho, of BABEL, SHALL WE DANCE? and, notably, Takashi Miike's recent
13 ASSASSINS, a far bloodier chunk of vendetta-driven chanbara, also at Fantasia this year. THE LAST RONIN
succeeds in tugging away the mask of the stoic samurai and revealing how an impossibly perfect code of conduct
can affect the imperfect creatures we people are.
"Saigo no Chushingura" will be shown on September 10 during the 15th Adelaid Japanese Film Festival under the
title of "The Last Ronin".
April 25, 2011
The awards for the 2nd Nippon Theater Staff Film Festival were presented on Sunday. A total of 881 staff members
from 365 cinemas nationwide sent in their votes, resulting in Nakashima Tetsuya's "Kokuhaku" taking the grand
prize. The movie"s star, Matsu Takako (33), was chosen as Best Actress as well.
Yakusho Koji (55) was named Best Actor for his role in Saigo no Chushingura, but he was absent from the
presentation ceremony because of filming for another project. Kiritani Kenta (31) was voted as Best Supporting
Actor for "BECK", while Kiki Kirin (68) picked up Best Supporting Actress for "Akunin."
The title of Best Director went to Sono Sion for "Tsumetai Nettaigyo"("Cold Fish", and Best Screenplay went to
Takahashi Izumi for "Solanin." Yasukawa Goro received Best Music for "Chonmage Purin."
Here 's the list of Japanese Weekend Box Office, January 1st to January 2nd. (Toronto JFilm Pow- Wow) "Saigo
no Chushingura" (The Last Ronin) is ranked number 8:
1. Partners: The Movie II* (Toei)
2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (Warner)
3. Space Battleship Yamato* (Toho)
4. Tron: Legacy (Disney)
5. Inazuma Eleven: The Movie* (Toho)
6. Kamen Rider X Kamen Rider OOO & W Feat. Skull Movie Taisen Core* (Toei)
7. Shrek Forever After (Paramount)
8. The Last Ronin* (Warner)
9. The Abacus and the Sword* (Asmik Ace/Shochiku)
10. Norwegian Wood (Toho)
* Japanese film
December 28, 2010
On December 15, the official website for "Saigo no Chushingura" announced that the December- 18th -showing of
the film in Hollywood had been postponed until some time in January, 2011. Reportedly there was some problem
regarding the US title, "The Last Ronin".
The official website for "Saigo no Chushingura" has announced today that this film will be shown at Mann
Chinese 6 Theater in Hollywood from December 18 to 31 this year. This means that "saigo no Chushingura" will
start being shown on the same day both in Japan and US.
Here's the official website report (Japanese) about the Hollywood premiere for "The Last Ronin/ Saigo no
Chushingura". Two photos are included.
Japan-zone Entertainment News:"A Samurai Tail in Hollywood"
The director and stars of "Saigo no Chushingura" were in Los Angeles yesterday for the movie's 'Hollywood'
premiere. It is the first major Japanese-language project taken on by Warner Brothers, and so it became the first
ever Japanese movie to be screened in the Steven J. Ross Theater at the company's headquarters. Director Sugita
Shigemichi (67) and stars Yakusho Koji (54) and Sakuraba Nanami (17) received a standing ovation from the
audience of 500 industry professionals, including a rare public appearance by WB Chairman and CEO Barry M.
Meyer. The movie is scheduled to open in Japan on December 18.
Titled "The Last Ronin" for its U.S. release, the movie is the latest in a long history of adaptations of one of
Japan's most famous historical events. A remake starring Keanu Reeves (46) is also said to be in the works. It tells
of the 47 Ako Roshi (masterless samurais of Akou) and is the quintessential tale of the "bushido" or samurai code.
The story is often used to relate the Japanese world-view as it relates to honor and loyalty. The 47 samurai are left
leaderless when their master is forced to commit "seppuku" (ritual suicide) for raising his sword against an imperial
court official. The ronin plot their revenge though they know it will inevitably lead to their own deaths.
The "Saigono Chuhngura" official site has been updated, and we can now see the full trailer.
The "Saigono Chushingura" official site was updated today. We can now see the summer format of the front page.
For previous formats, please click here.
A Photo gallery for this film is here. In the third- from- left image, we can now see where Terasaka Kichiemon
(Koichi Sato) is among the 47 warriors. He is just behind Oishi Kuranosuke!
Yomiuri-on-line has also put the video clip of "Saigo no Chushingura" press
Asahi com has put on the web the images of some of the main cast of "Saigo no Chushingura" who were present
at the Tokyo press conference held on June 17.
Here's another video clip of the press conference.
On June 17, a press conference for "Saigo no Chushingura" was held in Tokyo; and Koji Yakusho, Koichi Sato,
Nanami Sakuraba, Nizaemon Kataoka attended, together with Director Shigemitsu Sugita. Here's the video clip .
Eiga.com added a new actor and some new staff for this film.
Actor: Kunie Tanaka
Cinematography: Mutsuo Naganuma Editor: Chizuko Nagata
Art Director:Tetsuo Harada Music: Takashi Kako
Here's the first image of Koji Yakusho as Senoo Magozaemon in "The Last Chushingura".
Koji Yakusho's office has just announced that "Saigo no Chushingura / The Last Chushingura" will be released
nationwide in Japan in December 2010. The main movie theater is Marunouchi Piccadilly in Ginza, Tokyo.
On January 8, Koji Yakusho's office reported that the shooting of "Saigo no Chushingura" was wrapped up on
January 7. Reportedly the film iteself will be completed in spring this year. The good news is that the release of the
film may be in late December this year not in the second week in January 2011.
"Saigo no Chushingura" current flming was shown to the press on December 14 . We can now see an image of Koji
Yakusho as Senoo Magozaemon.
We can now see a photo of Koji as Seo Magozaemon.
Shooting of this movie was held at the Kanemaru-za theater in Shikoku on November 28 and 29. Here is another
photo of Koji with the other main cast members.
Here's more info about the cast members of this film:
A few weeks ago, it was learned that Warner Bros. is producing a Japanese film titled "Saigo no Chushingura," directed by Shigemichi Sugita.
More details have been revealed, including the choice of Nanami Sakuraba (17) as the heroine.
As previously reported, the film takes place long after the Forty-seven Ronin achieve their revenge. Although they were later sentenced to
commit seppuku, starring actors Koji Yakusho (53) and Koichi Sato (48) play two ronin who survive the incident and eventually run into each
other 16 years later.
Sakuraba has been cast as Kane, the illegitimate child of the Forty-seven Ronin's leader Oishi Kuranosuke (Nizaemon Kataoka) who was secretly
raised by Yakusho's character, Seo Magozaemon. One of the plot points is a proposed marriage between Kane and a wealthy merchant's son (Koji
Other cast members are Narumi Yasuda (42), Yoshi Oida (76), and Masato Ibu (60). Filming started on November 8. The movie is scheduled for
release in early 2011.
I was surprised and excited at the news that Nizaemon Kataoka, one of the top Kabuki actors had signed up for the
role of Oishi Kuranosuke in "Saigo no Chushingura": Oishi Kuranosuke is the leader for "the 47 Ronin"
Nizaemon Kataoka has performed the role of Oishi Kuranosuke on the Kabuki-za theater stage quite a lot of
times. I am looking forward to seeing the performances of Nizaemon Kataoka and Koji Yakusho.
Twitchfilm. net and Japan Zone Entertainment News also gave info on this movie.
Screen Daily, Nippon Cinema and J-Film POW-WOW give info on "Saigo no Chushingura".
Here's one of the Japanese articles about this movie.
EFILMCRITIC.COM (by Jay Seaver)
AT THE 2011 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: The story of the 47 ronin is perhaps the most
famous story in all of Japan, telling how in the early 1800s, after their lord was forced to commit seppuku,
forty-seven of his samurai spent a year biding their time and planning before striking back at the lord who
maneuvered their master into this position - and then committed ritual suicide themselves to atone for their crime.
"The Last Ronin" is not that story itself, but rather an intriguing off-shoot, telling the tale of its survivors -
including ones whom the bushido code suggests should not have lived.
Kichiemon Terasaka (Koichi Sato) numbers himself among them, for he is the 47th ronin. However, before the final
attack, the leader of the band, Kuranosuke Oishi (Nizaemon Kataoka)gave him the responsibility of letting the
story be known, and also delivering financial compensation to the widows. After over sixteen years of crisscrossing
the country on foot, "Kichie" has finally completed his work, and comes to Kyoto for the seventeenth anniversary
rites. Upon arriving, he notices the merchant Kariya (Kohi Yakusho), who bears an uncanny resemblance to his old
friend Magozaemon "Magoza" Senoo, a fellow ronin who fled the night before the attack, an act of terrible
cowardice. And Kariya is a man of secrets, chief among them Miss Kane (Nanami Sakuraba), a beautiful young
woman who secretly lives in his house deep in the forest, receiving lessons in ettiquette and deportment from former
courtesan Yugiri (Narumi Yasuda). And when Kane catches the eye of Shoichiro (Koji Yamanoto), the son of
wealthy clothier Jiro Chayashiro (Yoshi Oida), it is Kariya whom the father asks to investigate the girl's
Though it is likely no surprise to those who have read the original novel by Shoichiro Ikemiya, the literal title
character, Kichie, is not the primary focus of the film. It is not long before Magoza takes center stage. The early
scenes set up a mystery or two, but while the final details which tie the story together are saved for the end, that
Kariya and Magoza are the same person is never in doubt. Still, the grace with which director Shigemichi Sugita
and writer Yozo Tanaka shift the focus from Kichi to Magoza is impressive; it might take until midway through the
film for the viewer to realize that the film is much less about Terasaka's burden as a living witness than Senoo's
responsibilities as a parent.
Indeed, though springing from a martial story of swordfighting and honor, The Last Ronin has more in common
with Yoji Yamada's recent films which cast the samurai as the same sort of working man trying to make ends meet
as its salaryman audience than a brawny epic like 13 Assassins. It's a conjoined pair of love stories, in a way, with
Shoichiro's formal courtship of Kane (perhaps appearing relatively impersonal to a modern audience, but with a
subtle sincerity to it) contrasted with the affection between Magoza and "Yu" that has built up over years. Sugita
does a nice job of balancing the admiration for simpler times with recognizing the tragedies of those times.
Koji Yakusho and Koichi Sato are both quite good; though they don't share many scenes, there's a kinship between
them, with each doing a nice job of putting their own spin on survivor's guilt. Yakusho's performance is something
special, showing him about halfway between pretending to be Kariya and having become him. Narumi Yasuda is a
wonderful complement to him as Yu, doing that obviously in love but unable to voice it for fear of doing something
improper thing. And Nanami Sakuraba makes a nice Kane, capturing the mix of learned formality and real-world
inexperience that her upbringing would lead to.
The Last Ronin can be a bit dry at times - at 133 minutes, it has room for some of the detail to be overdone and
subplots to drag. It's a fine-looking movie, though, and the filmmakers add some nice touches: The puppet theater
scenes are perhaps not necessary, but the craft and precision is wonderful, for example. And the brief flashback to
the actual attack of the 47 ronin is not just a pretty nifty action scene, but is staged to look like it came from the
samurai movies of a previous generation.
There are other movies that dramatize that story, and many are plenty impressive. This one is a side story, but it's a
side story well told. The mystery is easily solved, but the joy comes from watching it untangle itself.
Saigo no Chushingura /
The Last Ronin (2010)
Senoo Magozaemon's house
Senoo Magozaemon (Koji Yakusho