Released back in 2014, little more than a month after its predecessor film, “The Legend Ends” completes the story told in “Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno”. This is the fiery conclusion to a story of revenge and redemption. The story involves more than just revenge and redemption however. In fact, there are a lot of different story pieces packed into this film: rogue ninja, government scandals, rival challenges, training montages, and more.
Though it would be easy for a film’s story to become convoluted when trying to juggle so many different plot pieces, “Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends” manages it pretty well. While some pieces of the story can feel unnecessarily drawn out and even forced in at times, they all converge for an epic finale that ultimately rewards viewers.
The exceptional cast of the prior film returns once more! Takeru Satoh is back as the masterful Kenshin Himura, Emi Takei as Swordswoman Kaoru Kamiya, Yū Aoi as beautiful doctor Megumi Takani, Munetaka Aoki as the brawler Sanosuke Sagara, and Yōsuke Eguchi as Hajime Saito of the police.
Many of the new additions from the prior film return as well. Kaito Oyagi comes back as the energetic Yahiko Myojin, Tao Tsuchiya plays kunoichi (female ninja) Misao Makimachi, and Yūsuke Iseya is rogue ninja Aoshi Shinomori.
Tatsuya Fujiwara returns as the bitter villian Makoto Shishio, bringing back with him the army of bad guys intent to help take over Tokyo. Ryunosuke Kamiki appears again as the ever-smiling swordsman on Shishio’s side, Sojiro Seta. Also on the villainous side, Ryosuke Miura returns as Chō Sawagejō.
All of these familiar faces doesn’t mean we don’t meet anybody new though. Opening the film is newcomer Masaharu Fukuyama, playing the role of Kenshin’s master, Seijūrō Hiko, an older man who can still teach the former manslayer a lesson or two.
Taking place immediately after “Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno”, the films begins with a defeated Kenshin washed ashore on lands unknown. It is here that his former master, Seijūrō Hiko, finds him. Fueled by his recent loss, Kenshin begins training with his old teacher so that he can master a new technique, a skill he hopes will help him take down his seemingly unbeatable enemy.
While away from the mainland, chaos continues to brew. Though Kenshin’s friends believe him to be dead, the former manslayer’s enemies hold no such hopes. The vengeful Shishio slaughters government officials and threatens the Prime Minister to find and execute the missing swordsman.
With the world against him, Kenshin finds he has to change in order to survive and protect everyone he loves. The question is, can he change in time to save everything he holds dear?
Though this is the third installment in the series, the film continues to find ways to keep its action fresh. Keeping up its signature speed and energetic moves, each fight scene continues to impress.
There is a build up of excitement as you see the protagonist improve day in and day out, in preparation for the final fight. When Kenichi finally leaves his master to finish his mission, you are left knowing that something epic is on the way. This is where the film truly begins to stand out.
The second half of the film is an indulgence in every way. The film’s invigorating pace and plot lines converge together in gratifying ways, as the accelerating action builds. Standout fights include a phenomenal four-versus-one fight showcasing teamwork and individual skill and a single-take fight scene showing Kenshin engage with numerous opponents.
Whether it’s a small scale fight or an all out war, “The Legend Ends” succeeds at keeping each battle distinct and engaging. With the aid of stellar choreography and excellent camera work, each fight has highlight moments that allow you to appreciate the fighters’ finer, more intricate movements.
A close up at the right moment or occasional slow-motion shot does feel good. With this film, there is a more prominent use of CGI than the prior films however it is done tastefully and accentuates the film appropriately. It’s nice to see a film that takes what’s worked previously and continues to evolve it into something this impressively grand.
“The Legend Ends” puts the life of the former manslayer on full display and delivers a new level of development for our hero character, Kenshin Himura.
While the film delves into him evolving as a swordsman, it also shows how the series has grown in many ways, especially action wise. The run-time may seem a little on the drawn-out side in the beginning, as it feels lacking of any true urgency, however this is remedied when the second half kicks in. Overall, “The Legend Ends” finishes the story of the former manslayer and his most dangerous foe in a sequel that goes out with a resounding bang.
- “The Legend Ends” is the second piece of a two-part sequel to the original film, “Rurouni Kenshin: Origins”. The first part of the sequel story, “Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno”, aired less than two months earlier.
- In April 2019, it was announced that there will be another sequel story, also split into two films. The two films are scheduled to be released in summer 2020.
- After this film, Kenji Tanigaki, the action director/fight coordinator for the series, received great praise from Gareth Evans, the director of the famous action movies “The Raid” and “The Raid 2”.
- “Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends” is alternatively titled “Rurouni Kenshin: Densetsu no Saigo-hen” in Japanese.
- “Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends” features a song by Japanese rock band, ONE OK ROCK. The song, “Heartache”, comes from their album “35xxxv”.