47 Ronin may not have made an impact as an action flick—released in 2013 headlined by a post-Matrix, pre-John Wick comeback Keanu Reeves—but someone over at studio Universal apparently has enough love for the medieval-Japan samurai film to greenlight a sequel—specifically a cyberpunk sequel set in the far-future. Now, said sequel has a director.
Ron Yuan, an actor who moonlights as a director, has been hired to helm the untitled 47 Ronin sequel movie, according to Deadline. The film, set up at Universal Pictures Home Entertainment subsidiary Universal 1440 Entertainment, will contrast starkly from its historically-based, Reeves-starring predecessor, touted as a genre-hybrid cyberpunk story set 300 years in the future. It is also reportedly set to be directly distributed by Netflix, although that notion doesn’t seem to be reflected in the source report (at least in its current form). As appointed Yuan expresses in a statement:
“I’m incredibly excited to be working with Universal and the producing team on this genre-blending, martial arts, action, horror and cyber-punk film. This will be a fun, intense, supercharged thrill ride for viewers globally.”
2013’s 47 Ronin, directed by Carl Rinsh off a script by Chris Morgan and Hossein Amini, put the often-adapted feudal-era Japanese historical tale through the lens of a supernatural fantasy actioner, centered on Keanu Reeves’s Kai, a half-Japanese, half-English adopted son of historically-based Lord Asano Naganori. A classic story of vengeance and undying loyalty commences against imperious power seeker Lord Kira (Thor’s Tadanobu Asano) after his machinations—carried out by shapeshifting witch Mizuki (Pacific Rim’s Rinko Kikuchi)—leads to Naganori’s execution. Consequently, Kai joins the rest of Naganori’s subsequently-exiled devotees—branded ronin (privilege-stripped samurai left without a master)—to embark on a low-odds militaristic endeavor to see their force of 47 overthrow Kira and his overwhelming armies.
47 Ronin, however, was a box office dud with a $151.8 million worldwide gross; a financial loss for the Universal-distributed picture against its $175 million budget. Thus, the sequel will initially come across as a surprising and vexing notion. However, the injected concept of a timeline leap to the far future, prospectively brandishing the kind of futuristic Japanese aesthetic famously displayed in anime such as Akira, does somewhat clarify the intent of the project, especially if it is Netflix-bound. Yet, it still leaves the question about why a project—a spiritual sequel at best—would even need to attach itself to the franchise of a failed film unless it will bear some substantive connection such as the return of Keanu Reeves, presumably as a descendant of Kai; a move that could be complementary to his upcoming starring video game role in Cyberpunk 2077. However, no cast members have been confirmed as of yet.
Appointed director Ron Yuan’s work as an actor will soon see him in Disney’s upcoming (streaming-shifted) Mulan live-action movie, also known from his recurring roles on Freeform’s Siren and Netflix’s Marco Polo. He has directed Asia-aimed features such as 2019 dance franchise offshoot Step-Up China and 2017 action thriller Unspoken: Diary of an Assassin, the latter of which co-stars Will Yun Lee, who—in a bit of a coincidence—happens to be a prominent part of another future-set cyberpunk offering, Netflix’s Altered Carbon.
47 Ronin 2 (title to be determined) doesn’t have any production or release windows set, but it certainly sounds like an eccentrically intriguing proposition.