Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends (2014) Movie Review

kenshin the legend ends posterRurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends

  • Rating – NA
  • September 2014 (Japan)
  • Director – Keishi Ohtomo
  • Takeru Sato – Kenshin Himura
  • Emi Takei – Kaoru Kamiya
  • Tatsuya Fujiwara – Makoto Shishio
  • Yosuke Eguchi – Hajime Saito
  • Yusuke Iseya – Aoshi Shinomori


I Have an Enemy I Must Defeat

The Legend Ends wraps up the Shishio Saga for the Kenshin series. It follows directly after the cliff hanger of Kyoto Inferno. If you haven’t seen Kyoto Inferno, and plan to, do not read on, there will be spoilers on how it ended. For those of you who have no clue to what I’m talking about, I’ll do a cliff notes version.

Ruroni Kenshin is based on the manga and anime series of the same name. It’s about a wandering samurai who has given up his old assassin ways of killing by carrying a reverse blade sword. The back of the blade is in the front, so he can’t kill or fatally wound anyone. The previous film Kyoto Inferno, is based on the second season of the anime and considered the best story arc of the series. Let’s see if The Legends Ends can live up to what it’s build up to.

shishio fights sano, kenshin, aoshi, saito

Now We go to War

We last left off where Kaoru (Emi Takei) gets thrown overboard off Shishio’s (Tatsuya Fujiwara) ship and Kenshin (Takeru Satoh) dives after her. Kenshin awakens realizing his master is the one that saved him and brought him back to his house in the woods. Realizing that he does not have the skill to take on Shishio, Kenshin asks his master, Hiko Seijūrō (Masaharu Fukuyama) to teach him the final technique in their sword art called Amakakeru Ryu no Hirameki (Heaven’s Soaring Dragon Flash).

Misao (Tao Tsuchiya) discovers Kenshin at his master’s place and delivers him news that Kaoru is recovering at a hospital. She also relays that Kenshin is now a wanted criminal from the government for his past dealings as a former assassin. It is shown that Shishio forces the government to capture Kenshin and have a public execution. Can Kenshin defeat Shishio? Did he learn the Amakakeru Ryu no Hirameki? Will Kenshin get captured by the government?

rurouni kenshin vs sojiro
Japan’s Future Rests on your Sword

At two hours and fifteen minutes, it’s another dragger, but it pays off at the end. Sort of, depending on your perspective. Like the previous film it has elaborate sets and costumes that take you back to the Mejii Era of Japan, but decides to drag out plot points. This time instead of unimportant battles, Kenshin goes through scenes much longer than it has to be. The story is simple, Shishio is evil, Kenshin learns secret technique, then goes and get him. Should not be another two hour film.

If you’re like me and watched Kyoto Inferno, you probably have to watch another hour and 45 minutes to get to the part you were waiting for. That’s over four hours waiting for a showdown. They did go all in the showdown. Now fans might be disappointed because Kenshin does not fight his way through a castle where there’s a skilled assassin waiting for him in each level like in the anime. He fights Sojiro and Shishio, that’s the two big fights. Sojiro was a decent fight.

Shishio’s fight gets it own paragraph. It’s very impressive and for me it can’t come any closer bringing a legendary fight in anime to life. I wasn’t too sure on how they would bring Shishio’s sword technique onto the big screen. I predicted the CGI would make the fight cheesy. I was wrong, Shishio is one bad mutha. All the intensity and desperation to stop Shishio is there. The fight choreography between all the fighters in the final battle is nothing short of epic. Watching Shishio easily defend himself using his flaming sword technique against 4 skilled warriors makes me forget the dragging events that lead to this. Seriously, I would rank this on my top ten favorite martial art fights. On a side note, for people who haven’t watched the series they will not understand Kenshin’s final technique. It doesn’t explain what he does, but fans might have to explain a few visuals.

Besides the epic fight, the ending doesn’t explain what happens to certain characters. It’s just implies something. I guess they were trying to wrap the film in a nice quick bow for the audience. When it ended I had to explain to my girlfriend what happened to those characters from what I remembered in the anime. The other thing that bothered me about the ending, that it was too perfect. In the series, after seeing the fate of the Shishio’s elite, Kenshin and his crew questioned the government. This was omitted completely. It’s also sad to see that Yahiko, Kaoru, and Misao sit on the sidelines instead of having bigger part by defending their village when Shishio assasins come to take them out like in the anime.

shishio flame sword
This is it

If you can withstand another hour and forty five minutes assuming you watch Kyoto Inferno, you be treated to one of the most insane four on one fighting sequences I ever witnessed. I believe there is one semi major fight before the conclusion, so the pacing makes this hard to recommend to newcomers especially with no conclusion to certain supporting characters, just the audience own assumptions. Fans might be mad about the direction it went at the end feeling cheated from a castle of assassins waiting for our hero and Yahiko, Kaoru, and Misaso take a seat on the sidelines than participate in any battle. I say a rental for fans. It might be too long winded for a casual viewer, but you are treated to fight that might become one of your all time favorites. Your call. I give this film a 7 for trying to bring Kenshin’s Shishio Saga to the big screen. It misses with horrendous pacing and some directions it took, but still a decent effort that’s not way way off mark. For real, the last battle is EPIC, and runs about 7 minutes.

Random Info I got from this File:
  • If a guy has fire coming out of his sword you better call for back up
  • People don’t start off bad
Other Files to check:
File Status: 7 out of 10
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Graphic designer by day, and movie blogger whenever I can. Been watching films in the 80s and never lost the love for it. Started Movie Case Files in 2012, and kept writing random reviews ever since. Besides movies, I like watching UFC, collecting retro video games, spending time with the wife, and bacon.

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