October 1, 2014
We only needed to wait one month for this much-awaited conclusion to the Ruruoni Kenshin film saga. We were just regaled last August with "Kyoto Inferno." This time we will witness the how "The Legend Ends."
The last film ended with our hero Kenshin washed up on a beach badly injured. He was carried off to safety by a new character, which we will learn in this episode to be Hiko Seijuro, Kenshin's former master whom he had not seen for 15 years.
The first hour of the film is basically spent on Kenshin training to get his fighting mojo back, as Kaoru was lying comatose in a hospital somewhere. Aside from a brief but exciting fight scene between master and student, there was a lot of talk in this hour about the fear of death and the will to live. I felt that the momentum of the film really got bogged down at this point by the philosophical arguments.
Thankfully, action gets revved up in the second hour and never let up until the end of the film. There was actually not much narrative anymore in this whole final episode. This is just a series of one big fight after the other setting up the climactic fight between Kenshin and Shishio, which we had been waiting for since the last film.
There was that elegant fight between Kenshin and Aoshi, whom we already met in the last film as the captain of the Edo Hidden Warriors who wanted to topple the man who toppled the shogun. Then there was a spectacular public execution scene on the beach, which again ended in mass fighting.
Of course, Shonosuke will again get his own featured bloody fistfight scene, this time with a Buddhist monk. Kenshin will also get the opportunity to again fight with the ever-smiling Sojiro who dealt him a bad loss in the last film. The ultimate best and most exhilarating fight scene of all is a four vs. one grand melee to the death. Shishio's flaming sword gives this final fight an extra fancy flair.
For recent fans like me who have not read the manga or watched the anime version of Samurai X, this last episode is still a very good conclusion to this film franchise. This is mostly because of the high-quality choreography and execution of the sword fight scenes. This is already the third film, yet the fight scenes are still very exciting to watch.
More devoted fans may complain about how characters were portrayed or their storylines changed. But for us who did not know better, this film was a great way to wrap up the story. The first film though back in 2012 is still the best one for me though. 7/10.