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100 of 101 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very moved and remind me somethig inportant thing
I am Japanease and live in Japan.
At first time,Tom Cruise decided to make Samurai movie,most of Japanese must be suspicious about it.
Because all hollywood movie about Japan and Japanese were really strange for us.
I always disappointed and felt didn't want to watch to the end.
But this movie was really great.
I can't belive this movie was made...
Published on December 11, 2003

versus
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars good, but not great
The Last Samurai is a movie clearly made by Westerners for a Western audience. Despite apparent misinterpretations, you can definitely feel that the movie was created with a mixture of awe and respect towards Japanese culture. So what the movie lacks in realism it does, in a way, make up in heart.

Different cultures and ways of living radiate a distinct feel,...
Published on October 6, 2004 by Furiae


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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow!, December 21, 2003
By 
Even though he earns a major paycheck, is a huge box office draw, and is a helluva nice guy, Tom Cruise really doesn't get his due respect as an actor. I will admit that at first I thought this was gonna be stupid, but I was way wrong. Some might describe The Last Samurai as Dances With Wolves meets Braveheart, but it really does stand on its own. I'm not saying the storyline is anything new, because it's not, but these are three-dimensional characters you really come to care about by film's end. That's what modern films need is 3d characters! My only complaint about the movie is that there is one perfect -- and very powerful -- ending but we are spoon-fed two more endings after that. Aside from that assumption to the audience's lack of imagination, The Last Samurai is a nearly perfect example of it's genre and is certainly one of the best offerings of 2003. OH AND I ALMOST FORGOT!!! The fighting is so awesome! I mean wow! It's so great!! 2nd best movie of the year.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'Last Samurai' a story of honor, December 9, 2003
By 
"volcom21" (Denver, CO USA) - See all my reviews
When I first saw the trailer for this movie, I thought, "Oh man, another 'artistic' Tom Cruise movie", but then I saw newer trailers for it and I decided to go see it. Tom Cruise is a really talented actor. I always thought he was an egotistical maniac and played himself in movies. You know, a wealthy womanizer with too much time on his hands, but this time he wasn't. The movie is about an alchoholic Civil War Captain who takes a job to go to Japan, to fight off rebels who are disgracing the Empire. The Captain, (Cruise) is taken hostage by these rebels and he finds out they are samurai. He learns many things about these people and why they stay samurai instead of converting to a regular army. Honor. They believe in practicing their heritage from their ancestors and the Captain becomes accustommed to that. There are then many battles and they were very well done. The acting from everyone in this movie was superb. The movie was alot like "Dances with Wolves". It was great to walk out of this movie having liked it, after I thought it was going to be bad.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Grand & Entertaining Epic. Mixture of History & Fiction., January 7, 2004
In 1876 Nathan Algren (Tom Cruise) is a Civil War hero who became disillusioned with politics and ideals during the Indian Campaigns, and then he became a drunk. An envoy from Japan offers him a job training the Emperor's first modern army, which will be used to suppress an army of Samurai who are rebelling against the Imperial government's modernizing agenda. Mired in self-hatred and disgusted by the irony that killing is what he does best, Algren declares that he'll kill anyone for $500 a month and sails for Japan. Against his better judgment, Algren leads an ill-prepared regiment of novice soldiers against the Samurai, and he is captured. The leader of the Samurai, Katsumoto (Ken Watanabe), treats Algren well, ostensibly so that he may learn about his enemy. And Algren grows to respect this imposing man and the ancient traditions of the Samurai that Katsumoto is fighting to preserve in the face of a rapidly emerging modern Japan.
"The Last Samurai" is a terrific example of what Hollywood does best. It is a epic of legendary proportions. It sets the personal stories of a few heroic individuals against a sweeping and beautifully photographed historical background. It is a great story, but not a realistic one. It's a grandly entertaining myth. The Samurai culture is idealized. The characters speak not as real people would, but in moving and thoughtful monologues. Even when they are speaking to each other, they are actually speaking to the audience. But Hollywood does these larger-than-life tales like no one else, and "The Last Samurai" is epic filmmaking at its best.
Tom Cruise is an obvious choice for such a large-scale project that requires that its cast have great screen presence so as not to be lost among the fantastic costumes and sets. Cruise's screen presence is up to the task, but I'm not sure his thespian skills are. Cruise's mannerisms are too modern for a man who grew up in the mid-19th century. But that is a minor flaw since "The Last Samurai" does not pretend to historical accuracy in its ideas, only in its environment. Tom Cruise is adequate here, but Ken Watanabe steals the show as Katsumoto, spiritual and military leader of the Samurai. His presence on screen is more than up to the film's epic proportions. I have rarely seen such charisma on a movie screen. He successfully embodies the concept of the warrior-poet in one character. I look forward to seeing more of Ken Watanabe in Western films, as well as Japanese. There are notable supporting performances from Koyuki as Taka, a woman who takes Algren into her home when he is injured and captured, and from Timothy Spall as a British translator.
Much has been made of "The Last Samurai"'s playing fast and loose with history. This is a film that aspires to bring an engrossing and monumental story to its audience before it aspires to accuracy in detail. My knowledge of Japanese history is sketchy at best. But it appears that the larger events of "The Last Samurai" are based in fact, while the details have been invented to serve the story. The rebellion of the Samurai and its great battle with the Imperial Army in the film closely resemble the Satsuma Rebellion of 1877, in which the Satsuma Samurai, led by Saigo Takamori, engaged the Imperial Army. It turns out the way it did in real life, too. The film's Katsumoto is based on the very real Japanese hero Saigo Takamori, who helped usher the Shogunate out of power and restore the Imperial family to power before eventually leading an armed Rebellion against the Emperor on account of the policies of the Meiji Restoration, which instituted sweeping reforms intended to modernize Japan. The Meiji Restoration did make it illegal for the Samurai to wear topknots and swords, as we see depicted in the film. The government's Ministers did have more power than the Emperor Meiji, who served primarily as a symbol of national unity. So I would say that the political climate and the major events depicted in "The Last Samurai" are real, while the story itself is not. Writer John Logan has used this environment to tell a story about the personal journey of an American and the clash between modern realities and traditional cultures.
"The Last Samurai" has often been compared to Kevin Costner's 1990 epic "Dances With Wolves". The two films are similar in that they are both about a disillusioned Civil War veteran who finds redemption and a sense of identity in a traditional culture that is on its way to extinction -or at least assimilation. But the Samurai were not harmless or innocent as the American Indians of "Dances With Wolves" may have been. The Samurai were politically influential and militarily powerful. And they were not marginalized after their defeat. Quite the contrary. "The Last Samurai" also departs from "Dances With Wolves" pacifist themes in asserting that the suppression of traditional cultures, by force if necessary, was necessary for Japan's survival in the modern world.
I highly recommend "The Last Samurai" as an excellent example of signature epic filmmaking. It's a well-paced story that holds the audience's interest even at nearly 2 1/2 hours in length. Ken Watanable's performance is thoroughly enjoyable. The battle sequence is breath-taking and utterly spectacluar. It will even appeal to the martial arts crowd; there are lots of sword fights. It's a melange of history and fiction, but I see no reason to sweat the details since "The Last Samurai" isn't claiming to be anything more than that.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Satsuma Rebellion -- History versus Hollywood, June 30, 2004
By 
George R Dekle "Bob Dekle" (Lake City, FL United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Last Samurai (Two-Disc Special Edition) (DVD)
Ray Bradbury once wrote a short story about medieval knights jousting with an oncoming train. Naturally, they got flattened. The story was an allegory of old versus new, modernism versus traditionalism. This movie is that short story expanded to feature length and moved to the Orient. In the place of the medieval knights is a true historical figure, Saigo Takamori, who led a rebel army to glorious defeat in the Satsuma Rebellion, a futile insurrection against the Japanese government during the early days of the Meijin Restoration.
As far as history is concerned, about the only thing the movie got right was Saigo's last valiant (or quixotic) mounted charge into the murderous firepower of the modern Japanese Army. Saigo was not the reactionary champion of Samurai privilege and custom that the movie depicted. He was one of the chief architects of the dismantling of the Shogunate and the dragging of Japan kicking and screaming into the modern world. For a time, he was even the commander in chief of the modern Japanese Army.
Many are recognized as great decades after their death. Saigo was that rare individual who was rightly recognized as great by his contemporaries. It makes for a fascinating story to learn how such a man could end up dying in a futile rebellion against the government he helped to create. But you won't find it in this movie. For the real story of Saigo, read "The Last Samurai: The Life and Battles of Saigo Takamori," available from Amazon.com.
While the movie got the sequence of events and the motivations of the protagonists wrong, the scenery, costumes, and weaponry appeared to be quite authentic. Most Samurai of Saigo's time practiced swordsmanship with cane swords. This practice lives on in Japan in the sport of Kendo. Saigo, however, subscribed to a school of swordsmanship that prescribed the use of hardwood sticks. The movie accurately depicts Saigo's disciples practicing with hardwood sticks. Watching the movie depiction of that practice readily shows why most Samurai used cane swords.
Another area the movie got right was the archery with the assymetrical bow. When we Westerners think of Samurai, we think of them as swordsmen. The Samurai were primarily archers, and the movie accurately reflects the importance of archery to the Samurai.
Notwithstanding the many inaccuracies of the movie, it is a stirring adventure of epic proportions, and quite enjoyable viewing. To borrow a phrase from another source, it is a movie for guys who like movies. Just remember as you watch this very good movie, it is not, I repeat, not history.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Honour, April 4, 2004
By 
This review is from: The Last Samurai (Two-Disc Special Edition) (DVD)
This is a film about honour. The message is one of service and sacrifice. The filming is beautiful, the sets very realistic and the costuming is spot on...note the subtle colours of the kimono's, true to the era. Timothy Spall is todays Robert Morley...a brilliant piece of casting. Director Edward Zwick continues to make emotional, epic films. Tom Cruise is in fine form here yet I feel the real stars are the Japanese actors. Ken Watanabe is wonderful...his message about the Cherry Blossums after a spectacular battle leaves a lump in one's throat. Hiroyuki Sanada is especially herioc as the stoic Ujio. It's grand to see Billy Connolly as a tough Master Sergeant and Tony Goldwyn presents his character as one that would have been comfortable in 1870's Japan or 2004 Iraq...he is brilliant. Koyuki Kato is a lovely, spiritual Taka and the entire production deserves far more praise than it received. The Hans Zimmer soundtrack fits beautifully...it is both heroic and moving...I give this film 5 Stars and urge all to see it...it is very spiritual, zen-like and above all, honourable.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 4 1/2 Stars, December 14, 2003
This film was a bit long, but really quite interesting. While I wouldn't say that Tom Cruise or any of the actors for that matter gave an oscar performance, this film was interesting in the way it contrasted West and EAst. Moreover, the film's main character Nathan Algren seems resistant to the West and its ideals as he is haunted by memories of fighting the "Indians." Through his interaction with the samurai, he comes to realize the rootlessness of the West. The West seems bent on doing, while the samurai focus on being. It is through Algren's observations of samurai connection between mind and body that he finally rejects the West and its ways. This film was also interesting in its rich symbolism, and of course I was glad that there was no gratuitous sex scene. Sure, some films might call for sexual displays, but this film wasn't one of them.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dances with wolves? Maybe but this movie was fantastic!!, April 1, 2004
By 
Christopher Austin (Taylor, MI United States) - See all my reviews
My husband and I and a couple friend of ours went to see this movie. Half way thru the movie I started crying and couldnt stop! Now i know im a sappy person, but to me this movie was packed with emotion and drama, and was the best movie I'd seen in quite a while. I noticed the male friend sniffling as well, but my husband tried to usher me out to the bathrooms, because I was crying. I said no way! am not going to miss a minute of it. This movie is well worth your while even tho it is similiar to Dances with wolves. What are you waiting for? Watch it! : ) Rebecca Austin, Christophers wife
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The last of the Samurai movies!, April 6, 2004
By 
Sonny Baronia (Ichikawa-shi, Chiba-ken Japan) - See all my reviews
If the movie is bad, the audience start going for the exit when the titles start rolling. Not with this one. I saw The Last Samurai with my Japanese wife and daughter. I wanted to clap my hands while the titles roll. But everybody was so still in their sits. I take that as a sign of acceptance from the Japanese audience. My wife cannot wait for the release date of the DVD in Japan. Buy this DVD! Don't forget the popcorn.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Even Cruise can't spoil great samurai movie, April 6, 2004
By 
M. Veiluva "sputnik99" (Walnut Creek, CA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Last Samurai (Two-Disc Special Edition) (DVD)
We are huge fans of Japanese historical films and samurai epics ("Seven Samurai" being the Valhalla of the genre)so we lined up early to see "Last Samurai." I had seen the reviews with mixed feelings, fearful that Cruise's "Top Gun" arrogance would crash through the culture like a Hummer.
As it turned out, the Japanese cast led by Ken Watanbe keeps Cruise under control. It was a little troubling to see Cruise's character completely master Katana technique and Iai waza in a single season, but I guess he had to to keep the plot moving. Also, Cruise is a bit like Milton Berle - he has to be the last man off of every scene. But Watanabe steals the movie and the supporting cast is terrific. For once, Cruise doesn't seduce the woman who is forced to keep him in her house, and she complains that he smells bad.
In the end, the movie is a spectacular paen to Bushido culture. (I haven't yet asked an old friend of mine who survived Bataan what he thought of this movie). The movie tackles a tricky and contradictory period of Japanese history, the great inner conflict between modernists (who won) and the feudalists, who probably were not all noble. But heck, its the action scenes which are worth enduring Tom Cruise, and I sure liked watching him get pummeled by Watanabe's No. 2.
If Japan rejected the West as the movie ultimately indicates, it sure didn't last long. In this respect, it has a strong similarilty to "Dances With Wolves", not only for its worshipful depiction of a dying culture, but favoring the twilight over the end.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stranger in a Strange Land, December 26, 2003
"The Last Samurai" is an excellent film, respectful of its source material even while telling a fictional story. The "foreigner joins a warrior culture, taking on their strange dress and winning their respect" story is well-represented on film and in history, from Bonnie Prince Charlie to "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Dances with Wolves," as well as the Japanese-themed "Shogun," which is based on the life of Miura Anjin/William Adams. Here, Tom Cruise is the stranger in a strange land, and the Samurai of Japan are the warrior culture.
Being no stranger to Samurai films of Japanese history, I was pleased by all aspects of "The Last Samurai." Both the modernizing Meji government and the past-looking Samurai of the period are well represented, although the Samurai come out looking much better. The warrior code of Bushido is not explained, and the lifestyle is completely romanticized, yet this is a movie and not a history text. Emperor Meji is well-played, which surprised me. He is neither hero nor villain. And there are ninjas, which improves every film.
In the vein of the big Hollywood epics, "The Last Samurai" serves up healthy doses of sweeping score, beautiful vistas and Japan-landscape eye candy. The country has rarely looked so beautiful, although I bet some technicians spent plenty of time computer-erasing the omni-present power lines. The samurai armor,while not historically accurate, looks beautiful on film. There are more than a few scenes that leap beautifully from a Kurosawa flick. A great looking cast helps as well.
To this day, Japan has difficulty rationalizing tradition and modernization, as can be seen in books such as "Dogs and Demons." "The Last Samurai" has some good lessons for modern Japan, and some good entertainment for us all.
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The Last Samurai (Two-Disc Special Edition)
The Last Samurai (Two-Disc Special Edition) by Edward Zwick (DVD - 2012)
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