The Last Samurai (2003): The Western Perspective on the Japanese Lexicon of Pride & Honor

the last samurai, edward zwick, tom cruise
The Last Samurai (2003)  - By Edward Zwick
Our Rating: 9.0
IMDb Ratings: 7.7
Genre: Action  | Adventure  |  Drama
Cast: Tom Cruise, Ken Watanabe, Billy Connolly
Country: USA
Language: English | Japanese
Runtime: 154 min

The Last Samurai is a 2003 epic action movie directed by American filmmaker and screenplay writer Edward Zwick. The Last Samurai's screenplay is co-written by John Logan. The Last samurai serves to be a great extension as well as a befitting tribute to the plethora of great Japanese Chambara movies (Samurai Action Flicks) directed by the likes of Akira Kurosawa, Masaki Kobayashi, Kihachi Okamoto, and Hiroshi Inagaki

a still from last samurai
A Still from The Last Samurai
In The Last Samurai, Zwick adds a whole new dimension to the Epic Samurai Cinema by providing a whole new (Western) perspective on the Japanese lexicon of Pride and Honor. For a defeated or a debilitated Samurai, the highest act of honor is to commit Harakiri or SeppukuThe Japanese Ritual of Suicide by Disembowelment. However, the West looks upon such an act of self-destruction as a symbol of abject pessimism and weakness, for the Western Philosophy teaches one to fight till the very last breath, whatever the odds might be. This striking contract is beautifully captured in The Last Samurai, probably for the first time on the celluloid, thanks to Zwicks stimulating direction and screenplay. 

Tom Cruise and Ken Watanabe in The Last Samurai
Tom Cruise and Ken Watanabe in The Last Samurai
The Last Samurai is a brilliantly crafted aesthetic pleasure studded with supernal performances from Ken Watanabe and Tom CruiseCruise portrays a cynical American military officer named Nathan Algren, whose personal and emotional conflicts bring him in contact with the last clan of samurai warriors led by Katsumoto. Tom Cruise unarguably gives his best ever performance, surpassing his portrayal of Jerry Maguire in the eponymous flick. Cruise's plaintive portrayal of Nathan Algren not only elicits pathos but also seeks sympathy of the viewer who can vicariously relate to Algren's self-inflicted plighta product of his inner conflict between patriotism and humanity.

Tom Cruise as Nathan Algren in The Last Samurai
Tom Cruise as Nathan Algren in The Last Samurai
Incredibly, it's Ken Watanabe who steals the show with his mesmerizing and poignant portrayal of Katsumoto. His screen presence and delivery is truly amazing and even outshines Tom Cruise's brilliant portrayal of Nathan Algren. The scenes between Watanabe and Cruise are pure gold, and depict beautifully fluctuating feelings of hostility, compassion and camaraderie. 

Japanese actress Koyuki in The Last Samurai
Japanese actress Koyuki (Right) in The Last Samurai
Watanabe's intense and powerful performance, during which he goes though an entire gamut of emotions,  was definitely worthy of the coveted statuette, but the Academy never really fails to disappoint. Watanabe's brilliant portrayal not only mesmerized the viewers, but also convinced the critics about his versatile acting abilities. The tacit love between Algren and Taka (subtly played by beautiful Japanese actress, Koyukienormously adds to the beauty of the movie. Almost everyone in the cast gives a memorable performance.  The Last Samurai's scenic shooting locations, crisp and detailed cinematography, and mellifluous background score make it a treat to watch and a truly surreal experience. The Last Samurai is high on style as well as substance, and succeeds in serving the masses and aficionados alike. 10/10

Readers, please feel free to share your opinion by leaving your comments. As always your feedback is highly appreciated!  

For more information on the title, please click on the following links:

The Last Samurai Trailer

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Ken Watanabe as Samurai leader Katsumoto, wearning armour, The Last Samuraii, directed by Edward Zwick

Tom Cruise as Nathan Algren, Japanes actress Koyuki as Taka, The Last Samurai, directed by Edward Zwick

Ken Watanabe as Samurai leader Katsumoto, riding with clan warriors, The Last Samuraii, directed by Edward Zwick

Tom Cruise as Nathan Algren with other British officials, The Last Samuraii, directed by Edward Zwick

Tom Cruise as Nathan Algren, wearning samurai armour, fighting against emperor's forces, The Last Samuraii, directed by Edward Zwick

Tom Cruise as Nathan Algren, Ken Watanabe as Samurai leader Katsumoto, fighting against emperor's ninjas, The Last Samuraii, directed by Edward Zwick

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  1. It's one of those movies that if it's explained in detail to you but you haven't watched it, it sounds incredibly stupid; in actuality it's a really amazing and uplifting movie that is in ways tribute to older Japanese movies about the samuria.

  2. The title could also be referring to Katsumoto and/or his crew. It's one of those titles that could be taken several ways.

  3. Another good review. I like the performance of Tom Cruise and Watanabe in this movie.

    1. Thanks Arun... couldn't have asked for more from Cruise and Watanabe!

  4. This movie is very good for watching. If you want to watch more hot and action movie visit here:

  5. Caitlyn@techdealsmagOctober 10, 2014 at 1:21 AM

    I completely enjoyed the movie. It's one of the few modern ones that reflects some of the values of samurai culture. It was well worth the price of a movie ticket and could be watched repeatedly. I enjoyed the aspect that dealt with Cruise's rebirth/transformation and the historical aspects.


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