Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends is the finale of Kenshin live-action trilogy. After a great first part and an awesome second part, expectations are high for the third part. As much as I want to be positive, unfortunately The Legend Ends fails to deliver fans' expectations of climactic finale to end the series with a bang.
The root cause of the failure lies with how the movie deviates from the original manga/anime plot. The first hour was an ultimate boredom that even if you fall asleep at the beginning, you still can follow the story later on. The first hour is mostly about emo Kenshin trying to learn the ultimate technique from his master, Seijuro Hiko. After that, it starts to get exciting with all the battles.
As I mentioned earlier, the battles are not as exciting as the original manga/anime. In the manga/anime, the battle against Shishio is not only a fight with Shishio. It is also a battle against Shishio's army: the Juppongatana which is sadly almost made absent in the movie. Kenshin vs Chou is already shown in the Kyoto Inferno and in The Legend Ends we only have Saitou one-shots Usui, Kenshin vs Seijiro, Sanosuke vs Anji, and the final battle against Shishio.
Sanosuke vs Anji battle was like a joke as there is no relationship between the two in the live action. Again, I hate how the director makes Sanosuke as if he is completely useless and lousy in battle. Sano's fight is just randomly hitting like a street gangster. Bleah... The 4-vs-1 battle against Shishio is nicely executed although I have to say it is weird that Aoshi just appeared out of nowhere for this battle in the movie. I know that they don't want to create cheesy special moves like the anime but I think they should at least put in a few moves. The final battle feels rather bland and has nothing outstanding as compared to the other battles in the movie. Even Kenshin's Amakakeru Ryu no Hirameki (that the movie spends an hour for him to learn this move on!) gets poor representation in this battle. Lame..
The most memorable part on Kenshin vs Shishio fight is Yumi's sacrifice. Sadly, this part is played down in the movie. Without dramatisation, audience will feel that Yumi is an idiot instead of feeling emotional that this is an act of love from her part.
My last complaint will be how Okina is made dead in the movie. Come on! Aoshi was a jerk who eventually turns around. With Okina being 'indirectly' killed because of Aoshi, Aoshi is not depicted in the good light in the movie.
All in all, I think this is a big anti-climax for all the good things that the first 2 movies have done. This is talking from a fan's point of view. For people who have not read the manga or watched the anime, I guess the movie is still enjoyable and worth watching.
Although the 3 movies can be considered "good" to "very good", I don't think I will be buying their DVDs. Why? I am quite disturbed with the amount of blood. Haha.. I am not disturbed with blood in cartoon (anime) or drawing (manga) forms. But seeing it in a very realistic manner kinda bothers me. Lol.