The problem with most Hollywood sequels is they take their sweet time to be released. It’s kind of annoying, especially if they film them simultaneously. The shortest gap I’ve seen between sequels would be the time period between The Matrix Reloaded (released in May 2003) and The Matrix Revolution (released in November 2003). While a gap of 6 months may not seem like a lot, it could be feel like eons if you’re eagerly waiting for it. Thankfully, the third installment of the live-action Rurouni Kenshin films only took 1 month! Thanks, Japan!
If you want a one-line recommendation of the film, it’s pretty much like my review of the 2nd live-action Rurouni Kenshin movie: fun to watch because of the action scenes but don’t expect an extremely deep plot.
Just in case you didn’t read the blurb before you click on the link (or you managed to find this through a search engine, bless your heart): THERE WILL BE SOME MINOR SPOILERS for both the previous film as well as this movie! You have been warned!
Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends picks up where the 2nd movie (Kyoto Inferno) left off. Kenshin Himura has washed ashore after his encounter with Shishio on the villain’s battleship, The Purgatory. Knowing he’s lost, he seeks council from his mentor, Hiko Seijuro, in order to learn the Hiten Mitsurugi Ryu’s final technique, as he feels he needs it in order to defeat Shishio.
Now, fans of the anime/manga may be surprised that the movie’s plot has practically no resemblance to the material anymore. The plot is totally different now and it does throw in a twist or two. Unfortunately, the story is pretty much a muddled mess. Oh, it does try to tell an engaging narrative but it just falls flat on its face. And that’s a real shame for a movie that’s a little over 2 hours!
Once again, there are weird conveniences. such as Kenshin returning to Tokyo because… I don’t know. He’s homesick? I think they tried to explain it by saying Kenshin had to report back to the police there? I don’t know. It’s also weird that the entire gang (Kaoru, Sanosuke and Yahiko) decide to go back because they figured Kenshin would go back there as well. Why they chose not to wait for Kenshin to the, oh I don’t know, at the Aoiya where they’ve been staying at since they arrived in Kyoto and has been their base of operations since then, is beyond me. Like I said, convenience.
The film has a huge cast of characters and, sadly, a lot of them don’t have much to do than stay in the background (pretty much the entire Juppongatana). In the last film, Kaoru and Yahiko participate in the defense of Kyoto. This time around, they do nothing to help out. No, really! They don’t have a single fight scene! They’re just… in the movie. Contributing nothing. It’s really disappointing. At least get captured or something!
What’s even more disappointing is the Juppongatana. In the Kyoto Inferno, Shishio made a big deal of calling in his elite force, the Juppongatana as it showed he was pushing through with his plan to take over Japan. And what do they do here in The Legend Ends? Well, they’re pretty much fodder. At least the lame-ass Cho from the last film got to show his stuff. Even a badass (and fan favorite) Usui doesn’t even get a legitimate swordfight!
Speaking of which, all of the fight scenes are well choreographed and executed excellently! Even with all of the film’s flaws, I find it hard to dislike The Legend Ends because of all of the adrenaline-pumping action! In my opinion, the fights in this film are ten times better than all of the action sequences I’ve seen in any recent Hollywood production. Yes, I thought the action in The Matrix was great but the fight scenes in the Rurouni Kenshin live-action films top them easily without question.
In fact, there was one sequence that I was really impressed with and that’s when Kenshin and Sanosuke board The Purgatory. They used one clean shot to film all of the action. No cuts in between. No switching of cameras. They just used one continuous shot of Kenshin taking on hordes of baddies then gingerly focus on Sanosuke taking over. That was extremely impressive and I can’t comprehend how long it must have took to choreograph, rehearse and shoot that one sequence!
Should you watch this movie even if you haven’t watched the other two live-action Rurouni Kenshin films? Yes and no. If you don’t care for silly things like “plot” or “a cohesive story,” then by all means, go watch The Legend Ends. But if you want to have at least a modicum of understanding to what the heck is going on, you have to at least watch Kyoto Inferno. Heck, I highly recommend watching them back-to-back!
I do hope Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends will not be the last film in the franchise. Here’s hoping they put the Enishi saga into production soon!
Have you watched Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends? What did you think of it? Say your thoughts by putting them in the comments section below!