CHICAGO – If you’ve ever wondered what the difference is between a director and a producer, let “47 Ronin” explain how the hierarchy of creativity hinders the evolution of even the most straightforward-sounding pitches. “47 Ronin” is the type of samurai movie set in Japan that features native actors speaking only English, while Keanu Reeves stars as an outsider clearly plunked into the picture for stateside star power.
CHICAGO – Maybe a film called “Ninja Assassin” starring Korean pop star Rain would be some people’s idea of a good time, but not mine. The best martial arts films are the ones that delve into the psychology of a warrior, turning grandstanding set-pieces into the artful externalization of his (or her) inner battles. “Ninja Assassin” may contain lots of martial arts, but the film is as much a work of art as a McDonald’s Happy Meal.