The Last Samurai
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Last Samurai, The (BF/BD)]]>
While Japan undergoes tumultuous transition to a more Westernized society in 1876-77, The Last Samurai gives epic sweep to an intimate story of cultures at a crossroads. In America, tormented Civil War veteran Capt. Nathan Algren (Tom Cruise) is coerced by a mercenary officer (Tony Goldwyn) to train the Japanese Emperor's troops in the use of modern weaponry. Opposing this "progress" is a rebellion of samurai warriors, holding fast to their traditions of honor despite strategic disadvantage. As a captive of the samurai leader (Ken Watanabe), Algren learns, appreciates, and adopts the samurai code, switching sides for a climactic battle that will put everyone's honor to the ultimate test. All of which makes director Edward Zwick's noble epic eminently worthwhile, even if its Hollywood trappings (including an all-too-conventional ending) prevent it from being the masterpiece that Zwick and screenwriter John Logan clearly wanted it to be. Instead, The Last Samurai is an elegant mainstream adventure, impressive in all aspects of its production. It may not engage the emotions as effectively as Logan's script for Gladiator, but like Cruise's character, it finds its own quality of honor. --Jeff Shannon
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One can't help but admire the Samurai culture, as Cruise's character mentions, its has an undeniable appeal. I don't like Tom Cruise as a person, but I enjoy his movies in general. I would argue this is his best role outside of Born on the Fourth of July. Watanabe is sublime, I can't get enough of this guy. He's also great in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon and Inception, but this is my favorite work from him. Very underrated film.
The depiction of Japan during the start of their industrialization.
The bad ass Samurai that charge into battle knowing the outcome.
The beautiful sound track that sucks you into the world and makes you want to visit this idyllic Japan.
The meeting of enemies who come to understand one another.
and the absolutely epic final battle that makes me cry every, freaking, time.
Some might complain that the movie is slow and that a lot doesn't happen. Yeah, I can see why they would say that. But honestly, there's a reason for it. Unlike most movies, this film gives you the opportunity to actually grow and care for the characters. It let's you be a foreigner in a strange land and shows you their culture, their way of life, their values.
It shows you that your enemies don't always necessarily have to be your enemies. Or that tradition is still very important in our culture, even though we so desperately want to modernize.
It's a powerful movie, and notice that I didn't mention Tom Cruise until now? That's because, although he was fine in the movie. I don't watch it to see him in action. Although he is important in numerous scenes, I don't particularly take much notice of him. He's just there to serve as MY avatar, so that I am interacting with these fascinating people. He's there, so that I can see what happens to the Japanese and their way of life.
Sorry, but Nathan Algren will never be as cool as Ujio, who reminded me of Mitsurugi from Soul Caliber.
If you have the time, definitely give this movie a watch. The final battle alone and it's amazing soundtrack is well worth the price of admission.
I got this movie for my father-in-law and the whole family watched it over the holidays. Everyone liked it and we had something to talk about, as they had just visited us in Japan. A nice nod to our time spent together exploring Osaka, Tokyo, Kyoto, and Hiroshima.