Rurouni Kenshin: The Final review

Rurouni Kenshin tells the tale of an assassin’s redemption. From its humble beginnings in the pages of the Weekly Shōnen Jump magazine in 1994, Rurouni Kenshin has ascended to big screens around the world. Recently, Rurouni Kenshin: The Final premiered in Japan, and is now available on Netflix.

It’s the 4th installment of the Rurouni Kenshin live-action movie series, and the penultimate movie before the finale. With all the buzz surrounding the movie, we decided to tune in to see if it lived up to its hype. Here’s our Rurouni Kenshin: The Final review of our favourite scenes, as well as our thoughts on the film.

The dark past comes to hunt Kenshin

tomoe death
Image adapted from: Netflix

Rurouni Kenshin: The Final is all about facing the past. Back when Kenshin Himura was still the notorious assassin Battōsai, he met and fell in love with a lady named Yukishiro Tomoe. However, during a bleak winter’s day, he killed her by accident when she jumped in front of his blade.

Rurouni Kenshin The Final- enishi
Image adapted from: Netflix

Yukishiro Enishi, Tomoe’s younger brother, witnessed the scene. He then harboured a deep hatred towards Kenshin. Years later, he becomes the head of the Shanghai mafia and journeys to Tokyo to seek avenge his sister’s death. He’s skilled in combat and merciless with his opponents, but there’s only 1 person he really wants to kill – Kenshin.

bombing of tokyo
Image adapted from: Netflix

However, he finds that a quick death is too light of a punishment for Kenshin. Instead, he chooses to make him suffer. The best way to do so is to rob the peace of the district Kenshin lives in, and to make his closed ones suffer before him.

– Highlights –

1. Chaos hits the tranquil streets of Tokyo

Rurouni Kenshin The Final - tokyo street attack
Image adapted from: Netflix

Rurouni Kenshin: The Final is an impressive visual feast, and the epitome of that would be the scene of the Tokyo street bombings.

As Enishi orders cannons to be fired at houses and stalls along the tranquil streets, the combination of shrill screams, the emotional background music, and a district engulfed in flames will send chills down your spine.

Rurouni Kenshin The Final - movie poster
Image credit: IMDb

This scene was heavily featured in the official movie posters, and it’s not surprising considering how the set-up is so breathtaking.

2. Kenshin doesn’t have to fight alone anymore

Rurouni Kenshin The Final - yahiko
Image adapted from: Netflix

Following the bombing of the Tokyo streets, Kenshin is determined to seek out his opponents. “Look after Sano,” he tells Yahiko, before venturing alone into the opponent’s den.

Rurouni Kenshin The Final - kenshin enemies
Image adapted from: Netflix

However, he soon finds himself heavily outnumbered as hordes of enemies surround him. Though Kenshin is skilled, fighting such a large troop alone is tough. This is even more so as Kenshin refuses to kill, thus the enemy numbers remain the same as the fight goes on while Kenshin tires out.

But unlike his days as Battōsai, Kenshin no longer has to fight alone. Makimachi Misao quickly shows up to get him out of the tricky situation. Accompanying her is Hajime Saito.

Kenshin meets another unexpected ally while battling Hei Xing from the Shanghai mafia.

Rurouni Kenshin The Final - seta seijiro
Image adapted from: Netflix

Initially, Hei Xing smugly claims to have a “trump card” – the powerful Seta Sojiro, the swiftest assassin of the Ten Swords. Kenshin frowns at the young man’s presence, bewildered as to why he has joined the enemy side. However, Seta reveals his bluff and ends up standing shoulder to shoulder with Kenshin to fight the mafia together.

This heartwarming scene is a testament to how far Kenshin has come, and the strength of the bonds he has forged with the people around him.

3. An emotional final battle with well-choreographed swordplay

kenshin enishi showdown
Image adapted from: Netflix

Many viewers would agree on one thing – the fight scenes in Rurouni Kenshin: The Final are jaw-dropping. Not only are they well-choreographed, their top-notch execution is reflective of the incredible amount of training the actors have put in for the movie.

It’s difficult to choose a favourite combat scene, but the final showdown between Kenshin and Enishi deserves its spotlight.

kenshin enishi final battle
Image adapted from: Netflix

Unlike previous combat scenes that are accompanied by epic music and creative manoeuvres, the final battle is a display of pure swordplay and martial art goodness. There is no dramatic music or exaggerated sound effects to distract the audience from the fight.

bleeding enishi
Image adapted from: Netflix

Moreover, the final battle is more than just figuring out who’s stronger. As their swords clash, years of pent-up emotions are unleashed. On one side, Kenshin feels guilty, but also resolute in stopping Enishi. Meanwhile, the avenger is steeped in fury and confusion over his own actions.

Verdict: 4.7/5

Usually, subpar action movies would try to embellish their plain fight scenes with unnecessary slow-motion, dizzy camera movements, and excessively short frames. There’s no need for such slights of hand in Rurouni Kenshin: The Final as the action scenes were already top-notch even before post-processing.

However, because of the heavy emphasis on the action scenes, there are fewer opportunities to showcase every cast member and their emotional development. Nevertheless, there’s still substantial character development of the protagonists and the main villain, thus this is not a fatal problem.

Rurouni Kenshin: The Final review

As Kenshin bids Tomoe a meaningful goodbye at her grave and walks on, hand-in-hand with Kaoru, we smile in relief knowing that he has come to terms with his past. 

Rurouni Kenshin: The Final is now available on Netflix. We highly recommend those who haven’t watched the first 3 installments of the movie series to do so before watching this movie, so that you understand what’s happening.

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Cover image adapted from: Netflix

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