The Last Samurai
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Epic Action Drama. 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.
No actor works harder to open a movie than Tom Cruise. His enthusiasm is throughout the DVD extras as he mirrors his samurai character by constantly talking about "loyalty" and "discipline" while working on the film. However as a post-movie experience, the top-line extras with Cruise and director Edward Zwick are repetitive and underwhelming, with too many clips from the film we assume DVD viewers have just seen. The History Channel show is also a pre-release promotional device that misses an opportunity to really dig into this intriguing time period. Better are segments on the costumes, the production design, and how you put together an Imperial army--in New Zealand, no less. Zwick's low-key and dense commentary (plus a "Video Journal") is not vital, but he illustrates many of the little peculiarities it took to make the wide-ranging film come together. There are two deleted scenes; a samurai's first appearance is particularly memorable. --Doug Thomas
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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.
Interestingly, the music doesn't stand out in the movie the way I thought it would. Comparatively speaking, music in Interstellar grabs me in just about every scene. I find the music in The Last Samurai to be more subtle. I still listen to it almost daily on YouTube.