Rurouni Kenshin: The Final is the culinary instalment of the 5 part Rurouni Kenshin series. It released on the streaming giant Netflix, on Friday, 18th June. The story picks up 12 years after the end of the previous film. Although this is a sequel, the movie can also be watched as a stand-alone. There are enough flashbacks and backstories for the characters for the movie to make sense in itself as well.
The series has been adapted from the popular Japanese manga series Rurouni Kenshin: Meiji Swordsman written by Nobuhiro Watsuki.
The film follows Kenshin Himara, dubbed Battosai – The Killer. He played a pivotal role in the battle of Bakumatsu. Overcome by the burden of his sins, he becomes a wanderer in a bid to atone for all the lives he has taken. In the process, he falls in love with Tomae, and they get married. It is later revealed that Kenshin had been the one to kill Tomae’s fiancee, and she had hidden ulterior motives.
After the war, there is an elongated period of peace in Japan, and a new government has risen to power. Kenshin has settled into his new life with his friends. However, Tomoe’s brother still harbours hatred for Kenshin and is bidding his time to formulate a plan of attack.
Rurouni Kenshin is everything you would expect it to be. It is packed full of amazing action sequences and featuring the perfect mix of flashbacks and callbacks to appeal to a first time viewer. It submerges you into the landscapes of Tokyo in the 1800s and the Samurai culture of honour and repentance.
A major flaw with the movie is that there is, at times, a bit too much going on. Although the action sequences are brilliantly directed and performed even better, there are simply far too many. During its run time of 2 hours and 19 minutes, more than three-fourths of the movie contains action. While the first few impress you as a viewer with the stylized way of Japanese warfare and the cinematography that uses long takes and frantic camera movements, after a while they all blend into one, and begin to bore rather than excite.
In fact, because there is so much action, the movie misses out on the most crucial element of filmmaking. Character development is something that can make or break your film. Although in itself, Rurouni Kenshin: The Final does manage to entertain, there is a certain lack of character throughout the film. All in all, the film focuses a bit too much on the physical fight rather than the emotional fight a character might be going through.
However, an aspect we loved about the film is the fact that the filmmakers did not shy away from showing female warriors who are equally as skilled as the male lead. The film features multiple strong female leads, all in different aspects.
There’s Tomae, wanting to avenge her dead fiancee, and Kaoru, a sensei for the police personnel in training, and even Megumi, the primary physician as she bustles about in the midst of battle to save the wounded.
The direction does shine through, especially with how well executed the action sequences are. The transitions are flawless and boast of an inspired eye during post-production. All in all, we would say, Rurouni Kenshin: The Final isn’t exactly a must-watch but if you find yourself craving some fast-paced action and brilliant direction, this should be your pick.
Final Verdict – Rurouni Kenshin: The Final
This live-action remake could be a potential treat for all anime and manga lovers, but it definitely is not our personal favourite. Although the story featured some beautifully complex characters, there was a definitive lack of soul in them, that is to say, they seemed rather flat and unappealing. After all, action sequences can only entertain for so long.
Stream it here on Netflix.