fun rant

When editing goes wrong

One of the local semi-independent stations is showing Ronin this evening. Now, being one of my favorite action movies, because it is a thinking-man’s action movie and not a mindless blood and gore fest, I figured I would keep it on while I languished away the hours working on my wife’s XP box. (Bad, XP, bad!) Those of you who haven’t seen the movie can skip the rest, because I’m going to talk about a specific plot point, and it contains kinda-sorta spoiler info.
I realize there’s a lot of editing that has to go in to a film like this, to put it on non-cable television during “family hours” on the weekend. In addition to filtering out the curse words, and especially bloody scenes, the broadcasters have to be concerned with a time factor as well, mostly so they can get enough advertising in to cover the cost of showing the movie. I can appreciate all of this.
But then they go and cut what I consider a central tenant of the movie. Maybe it’s because I am a fan of this film, and have seen it a few times. Maybe persons who have never seen it before won’t miss the scene because they don’t know to miss it.
The scene I’m referring to is at Jean-Pierre’s, where Vincent (Jean Reno) takes Sam (Robert De Niro) after the latter has been shot. While recovering, Sam watches as Jean-Pierre paints miniature samurai warriors for a diorama he has created. His hobby, as he explains to Sam. We see Jean-Pierre put the latest dry figure on to the diorama, and we cut to the next scene.
They completely cut out the rest of the scene with Jean-Pierre, who explains to Sam about the 47 Ronin, and what ronin were: masterless samurai. The 47 Ronin were despondent over failing their master, who was killed by a rival warlord. So, in time, they gave their lives in an attempt to kill the rival. The term ronin in the case of the movie is supposed to refer to agents who have left the fold of their respective agency, like Sam. I always thought this scene was rather important, as it goes a long way toward explaining the title of the film, even if not directly. It’s a shame it was cut for the television broadcast.