After two resounding hits at the box office, the live-action Rurouni Kenshin has quickly become one of the biggest and most successful Japanese movie series out there, and with that success comes overwhelming pressure for the third and final film to deliver a conclusion worthy of the success of its predecessors. So how did Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends fare?
Simply put, it absolutely did not disappoint and it more than live up to its expectations. Takeru Satoh portrayed a very convincing Kenshin as he struggled between his past self, which is known by many as Battousai the Killer, and his peaceful wanderer present self known to his friends as Kenshin Himura. Unlike the first two where we saw Kenshin basically owning his opponents in mostly one-sided fights (with the exception of his first fight against Soujiro Seta in the second movie), this third movie featured a weaker Kenshin, which portrayed his human side a whole lot more. After “losing Kaoru” in the second movie, he finds himself questioning his worth and seeking vengeance, even to the point of wanting to die. Fortunately, he finds salvation when he meets his former teacher and sword master, Seijuro Hiko, played by Masaharu Fukuyama who basically lived up to his sake-loving, smart-talking, master swordsman role. And it was really fun to see Master Hiko own Kenshin with just a wooden twig.
The Kenshin-Kaoru romance was still very evident and it became one of the major driving forces for Kenshin to bury his Battousai self and embrace the wanderer. It was especially sweet near the end of it all too.
Tatsuya Fujiwar, who played big bad Makoto Shishio truly lived up to his “Final Boss” image by owning not only Kenshin, but everyone he encountered. The guy was truly a monster and the last battle between him and Kenshin’s group which composed of Kenshin himself, Sanosuke Sagara (Aoki Munetaka), Aoshi Shinomori (Yusuke Iseya), and Hajime Saito (Yosuke Eguchi) was just mind-blowing. The fight was well choreographed and very entertaining.
Though not as entertaining as the 4-on-1 handicap match of a final battle, Kenshin’s other two fights with Aoshi and Soujiro Seta (Ryunosuke Kamiki) will also hold you to the edge of your seats.
The story was focused on Kenshin and his inner struggles, and it was very successful in portraying that. However, I felt that it overshadowed other portions of the movie, most especially Shishio’s deadly band of swordsmen, the Juppongatana. They were heavily billed as Shishio’s deadliest henchmen, however, they fell flat… very flat. The most disappointing of them was Usui, the blind swordsman who was portrayed as the deadliest member of the group in the manga and anime. He was this mighty blind swordsman using his eyes of the heart to kill opponents mercilessly, but his story was never explored and his death was just… disappointing. Even Anji, the mad monk, was just as bad. Sure, he fought Sanosuke like in the manga and anime, but they never really explored his character and his relationship with Sanosuke. Their fight was also kind of bland, but given how long the movie already is, it was understandable. The other members were a disappointment as well as they were not even introduced and we did not even get to see their abilities.
However, despite giving the Juppongatana the very limited role ordinary disposable henchmen, the movie was very awesome overall. It is a must watch for any fan of the original series as well as anyone who would like to sit back, relax, and watch a fun and enjoyable movie.
You can also read our review of the second movie through this link
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