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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

The Last Samurai (2003)


Ruined all hopes for a Samurai Jack movie.

Tom Cruise stars as Nathan Algren — an American hired to instruct the Japanese army in the ways of modern warfare — in this lush epic set in the 1870s, which finds Algren learning to respect the samurai and the honorable principles that rule them. Pressed to destroy the samurai’s way of life in the name of modernization and open trade, Algren decides to become an ultimate warrior(with Ken Watanabe) himself and to fight for their right to exist.

The film is marketed as being the Tom Cruise epic vehicle that shares a lot of similarities to Dances With Wolves. The story may seem the same, but the game has sort of changed.

The most satisfying thing about this film is its high production values it used. This is a triumph in products and costume design as you feel like you actually are in Japan during this time period. I mean how everybody looks, they aren’t just people dressed up, you actually feel like these are real people and you are apart of their village as much as they are.

The one thing that kind of made the film was that it wasn’t a one-note action pick like a lof epics accidental hit. The scenes where Cruise is learning the ways and lifestyles that these people take with honor in all their choices was really interesting. Now, granted the epic action scenes, especially the last 20 minutes, are always exciting and very well choreographed.

I did have a couple of problems with this film though. I feel like the message the film was trying so hard to bring out failed, mostly due to all the blood shed it brought out along the way. Stories like this are always interesting to follow; a man haunted by his past and loathed by his comrades gets his chance at redemption by adapting another culture’s beliefs and lifestyle. You know the ending; an epic battle but the he somehow is the last man left standing. The problem with this one is that it seemed as though the writers were so afraid to cut out the jargon that bogged the story down, but that’s Hollywood for ya.

I think that Tom Cruise, for as much as shit as he gets, is till one of the best actors working today, but doesn’t quite convey any different emotions I first had about him here. He does a good job, but I still see Tom Cruise in a samurai outfit, and not any real emotional character. The real stand-out here is Ken Watanabe who takes this image that we have of this typical old, wise samurai and turns it on his head and makes him a lot more human with more emotions.

Consensus: The Last Samurai has high production values that show with its great look and awesome action scenes, but doesn’t use and original story and still has problems convincing me that Tom Cruise is this samurai.

8/10=Matinee!!!!

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One response to “The Last Samurai (2003)

  1. Ross McG February 25, 2010 at 12:56 pm

    yeah, TLS is good fun, even get a stock ‘Cruise drunk’ scene

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