“47 Ronin” (PG-13): Very violent, yet showing little gore, this elegant samurai saga, based on a Japanese legend, will please many high schoolers who like old-style martial arts films. Middle schoolers with strong stomachs for implied screen violence may like it, too, but perhaps not in 3-D.
Keanu Reeves plays a “half-breed” named Kai, a preternaturally gifted fighter living in a mythical version of 19th century Japan. Kai cannot be a samurai because of his outcast status. He loves Mika (Ko Shibasaki), daughter of Lord Asano (Min Tanaka), and she loves him, but the two cannot be together. When the great Shogun (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa) visits their district, he’s accompanied by power-hungry Lord Kira (Tadanobu Asano).
A shape-shifting Witch (Rinko Kikuchi) in league with Lord Kira causes an incident that offends the Shogun, who is led to believe that his host, Lord Asano, is responsible. The Shogun requires Lord Asano to commit suicide as a traditional punishment, and dubs Asano’s samurai as outcasts, called Ronin, banning them from fighting. The wronged Lord Asano’s loyal second-in-command, Lord Oishi (Hiroyuki Sanada), vows secretly that he and the other Ronin will avenge their lord’s unfair death. Freed after a year in captivity, Lord Oishi finds Kai enslaved, breaks him out, and asks him to join the Ronin to exact an ingeniously staged revenge.
Much violence, little blood: We see samurai warriors run through with swords. Others, in addition to Lord Asano, are condemned to commit traditional suicide using daggers. Little of the suicide scenes actually appear on camera, but they are strongly implied. There are also two implied beheadings. Kai fights a bull-like monster and a dragon, gutting them with his sword, though again, no blood.
“The Wolf of Wall Street” (R): Star Leonardo DiCaprio and director Martin Scorsese dramatize this Wall Street horror story, based on a memoir of Jordan Belfort’s (DiCaprio) misbehavior. Like the man, the film is over the top, and not for anyone under 17 – not for anyone under 21, really.
It is a cautionary tale that, while terrifically acted and designed, glamorizes Belfort’s drug-and-booze-addled life and fraudulent business. We meet him as a young broker in the 1980s, schooled in the ways of fleecing clients by a chest-thumping (literally) broker (Matthew McConaughey). After the 1987 crash, Belfort lands in a penny-stocks operation on Long Island. He easily sells the worthless stocks to people who can’t afford them, while pocketing 50 percent commissions. Soon he opens his own company, Stratton Oakmont, and hires a like-minded oddball, Donnie Azoff (Jonah Hill) to work with him. High on cocaine, Quaaludes, crack and booze, partying with legions of prostitutes, Belfort, Azoff & Co. make fortunes by committing fraud in the unregulated market, while an FBI guy (Kyle Chandler) waits to pounce. In Scorsese’s hands, their fall is as tumultuous as their rise.
This movie depicts many scenes of hard partying that include drug abuse and heavy drinking. There are multiple graphic and semi-graphic sexual situations with nudity, sometimes with groups of men and prostitutes. The script contains highly profane and sexually explicit language, plus a use of the N-word and a homophobic slur. Belfort nonlethally crashes a helicopter and a sports car. While trying to hide his remaining money in Europe, Belfort et al. sail his yacht into a huge gale.
“Grudge Match” (PG-13): The language is too crude and profane for middle schoolers, but why would they want to see a movie about a pair of washed-up 60something boxers anyway? On the other hand, while “Grudge Match” is corny and formulaic, its co-stars Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro carry so much cinematic history and charisma with them, the film proves a guilty pleasure. Some high schoolers may like it.
The script includes a nearly constant barrage of crude language, midrange profanity and toilet humor, pushing the PG-13 limit. The S-word gets a good workout, and there is plenty of semi-crude sexual slang. Adults tell a child that a common sexual abbreviation stands for “butterscotch jellybeans.” The film includes an implied, nongraphic sexual situation in partial undress. One character drinks a lot.