When the first Rurouni Kenshin film debuted, the feeling was like seeing the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie as a kid in the '90s. You were just glad to see these guys on screen. Comic book adaptations of the Marvel/DC kind are a dime a dozen these days, but good live-action versions of Japanese manga or anime have yet to experience the silver screen exodus. In this sense, Kenshin was a landmark movie in that it proved that anime can find success with the Hollywood treatment.
Now, we arrive at the series’ third film, The Legend Ends—the finale of the two-part Shishio arc that began with Kyoto Inferno.
Shishio, on his giant warship, is ready to rain hell over Tokyo while Kenshin is deep into his attempt to regain his killer instinct with his master. In between the motivational speeches, wound-licking, and the usual anime monologues, we all know what we came here for: to see Kenshin and Shishio duel to death in a swordfight that will top all those before it.
And they do, of course.
Shishio lives up to his reputation as the only swordsman more fearsome than "Battosai The Killer." The legend-ending finale is nuts. It’s relentless, explosive, and pushes the limit on the amount of blood allowed in a PG-13 movie.
At times, you will have to remind yourself that the film is based on an anime to keep yourself believing in Shishio’s flame-spewing ways. But if you get past that, the chaotic rush of high-speed sword clashing, body slams, and crate-breaking fists thrown between Shishio and Kenshin’s comrades will have you bracing yourself onto your seat—just as much as Kenshin’s other big fights in the film. Such as: