Review Date: 2/27/23
Cast: Anna Akana, Mark Dacascos, Teresa Ting, Mike Moh, Dustin Nguyen, Dan Southworth, Luna Fujimoto
Remember the sword that killed the witch in "47 Ronin?" Neither do I, but that's the only reference this so-called sequel has to the 2013 remake. The sorcerer Yurei (Dan Southworth) is killing all the descendants of the original 47 ronin with the intent of reuniting the Warrior Blade with the Witch Blade and attaining ultimate power. A young woman from New York named Luna (Anna Akana) shows up in Budapest with the Warrior Blade, and the Samurai Clan must get to her before Yurei does. With only five days until the next Blood Moon, can Luna learn to become a master swordsman in time to fulfill a prophecy and defeat Yurei?
Unfortunately, the film is a mess and wastes its talent and potential. The writing is poor, the acting is weak, the music is awful, the makeup is regrettably unattractive, and the deplorable dialog sounds like it was written by a 13-year-old. It's well-filmed, but garish lighting spoils the tone and unconvincing digital blood and muzzle flashes are a constant buzzkill. The one thing the film does right is feature a cast of talented actors who can do their own stunts, which allows for better fight cinematography with longer shots that follow the action rather than faking everything in the editing room. Veteran actors Mark Dacascos and Dustin Nguyen are excellent and add a touch of class and dignity to the production, while the younger actors suffer from trying too hard to be cool and edgy. Mike Moh is instantly dislikable as a cocky and hotheaded young ronin, but his character eventually softens up. Unfortunately, the same can't be said for Anna Akana's character, who is abrasive and offensive the entire time. It's a good thing she's pretty, because that's all she has going for her. Teresa Ting is the real star of the show, and while her character can be grating, her fierce intensity and impressive martial arts skills are a joy to watch. She also bears an uncanny resemblance to Dennis Dun, right down to his mannerisms, but there doesn't appear to be any relation. The other actress who arguably steals the show is Luna Fujimoto, and her fight scenes are excellent. I definitely enjoyed watching her.
I really wanted to like this movie, but the haphazard direction and juvenile mentality are a constant stumbling block. The plot is ridiculous, the villain is a joke, and it never does anything to endear the audience to the characters. I could forgive this if the set pieces stood out, but they lack tension and emotional depth. It's disappointing because the female action theme is so strong and the actors really give it their all. The fight choreography and execution are quite good, but the endless stream of faceless bad guys makes it feel like an episode of "Power Rangers," albeit with a lot more blood. Perhaps this shouldn't be surprising as several cast members are "Power Rangers" alumni, but the film is too bloody and gory to be targeting the "Power Rangers" crowd. Additionally, the good guys have too much sass and attitude, which makes it hard to root for them. They're all just a bunch of annoying teenagers who like to mouth off, and does anyone enjoy that? Nearly everything they say makes you want to roll your eyes and groan. Or is that just a sign of me being old? It's not a terrible movie, but you have to go in with low expectations. If you like watching cute girls slice up ninjas while making snarky and disrespectful remarks, then it might be right up your alley.