I walked into the cinema really expecting to love Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends even more than I did the second one. So perhaps it could have been my unrealistically high expectations for the movie or, maybe, I was looking out for the wrong things, but, boy, did it suck.
I figured that, at worst, the movie would largely feature Kenshin himself in what would be an extended training montage.
But that could have actually been a pretty fun thing to watch. And if properly interspersed with Shishio and his 10 Swords (of whom we hadn’t seen much in the second movie) wreaking havoc on Tokyo, the movie could have been pretty epic.
Not only would it have set the stage for yet-to-be-developed characters like Aoshi (who is disgustingly misused here) to confront his inner demons and decide on what he really fights for, but to also shine the limelight on familiar faces like Saito and Sanosuke who were only ever presented as supporting characters.
Instead, we got what I can only call a jumble of revisitations attempting to tie-up loose ends that… we didn’t even know were loose in the first place. To make things worse, the movie barely even tries to justify the forced inclusion of just about every supporting character into the plot. Add to that a string of verbose philosophical monologues in lieu of fast-paced, story progressive action sequences, and The Legend Ends can be described quite simply in one word: boring.
The greatest sin of the movie, however, lies in the supposed plot complication: Shishio, who ranges from brutal, self-righteous revolutionist to blithering idiot, is to be feared due to having a warship with large cannons… so how threatening is he when he get off the ship? Well, we never find out ’cause he only ever leaves the damned ship once. (And I have no idea why the Japanese government officials choose to have tea with him instead of just shooting from afar.)
My opinions of this particular movie aside, however, the Kenshin Trilogy deserves to be watched at least once by fans of the manga, action movies, or comic book movies in general. After all, the first two instalments are still some of the most satisfying movies I have ever watched.