The Last Samurai (2003)

The Last Samurai (2003)
  • Time: 154 min
  • Genre: Action | Drama | History
  • Director: Edward Zwick
  • Cast: Tom Cruise, Ken Watanabe, Masato Harada


Set in Japan during the 1870s, The Last Samurai tells the story of Capt. Nathan Algren (Tom Cruise), a respected American military officer hired by the Emperor of Japan to train the country’s first army in the art of modern warfare. As the Emperor attempts to eradicate the ancient Imperial Samurai warriors in preparation for more Westernized and trade-friendly government policies, Algren finds himself unexpectedly impressed and influenced by his encounters with the Samurai, which places him at the center of a struggle between two eras and two worlds, with only his own sense of honor to guide him.

One comment

  • Beautiful cinematography, excellent acting, powerful message. And not over-blown in the sense of pounding the viewer on the head with the message (although, in truth, that could have been ratcheted down a bit: we GOT it! Kind of like “Hotel Rwanda” or “Last King of Scotland” — yes, there are terrible things which have happened…ow, stop hitting me on the head, you’re already doing fine getting your message across). What is so great about “The Last Samurai” is that it discusses a code of honor which is a way of life even today, not just a hundred years ago.

    One must be careful not to confuse the real-life actors with their on-screen work. (I was very impressed by Cruise in “Vanilla Sky” and yet lately he has become something of a caricature (this I only know from gleaning popular culture via the mainstream, since I don’t watch TV or read the papers). Perhaps he has become somewhat like the character he plays in “Magnolia,” a fervent zealot.)) I admit I was prepared to watch another movie instead. Much to my surprise, the film was engaging immediately, and everything subsequent in the story / film was powerful, intelligent, and brilliantly done. The Japanese actors were integral to this. More to the point, the WRITING was key. This was a terrific story, using history and making it into something both visually stunning and ethics-oriented.

    The Japanese seemed thrilled that their cultural ideals were being touted. (Based on interviews at Japanese premiere.) Also, this film must have cost a fortune to make; all the backdrops were painstakingly accurate. “The Way of the Warrior” or Bushido is given an impressive stance. 8/10!

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