The Last Samurai

DVD Reviews | Mar 4th, 2005

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Starring Tom Cruise, Ken Watanabe, Billy Connolly, Timothy Spall, Hiroyuki Sanada, Koyuki
Written By:
Directed By: Edward Zwick
Studio: Warner Bros. The Last Samurai is a glorious epic
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Tom Cruise stars as Captain Nathan Algren, a Civil War veteran who is hired to modernize Japan’s troops. The one group that stands in Japan’s way are the Samurais, protectors of the Emperor for a thousand years. Japan feels the need to join the rest of the world, and abandons the Samurais. Algren was just hired to train Japenese troops, but when he is captured he realizes there is more to the Samurai.

Nathan Algren was an alcoholic former Civil War captain, who just wanted to make a living. He left behind a duty that was rather difficult to accept. Sometimes, as a soldier you have to do things you regret, and Capt. Algren regretted quite a few things. Upon his capture by the Samurai, he comes to the realization that the Samurais embody traits he once found the key existence to his being, like honor, compassion, integrity, trust, and loyalty.

Ken Watanabe, plays Katsumoto, the head of the Samurais, and to me is the key ingredient in this picture. Without the outstanding Watanabe, this would have been another plain action adventure movie. Watanabe brings Katsumoto to life, and plays him with the respect and passion, as if he served under a Katsumoto. As Cruise, is held in captivity, he embraces Katsumoto as a strong leader, and his mythology. Cruise finds it intriguing and begins to train amongst the Samurai, learning the way of the warriors, as well as the language. Growing to love his surroundings, and the beautiful Taka (Koyuki,) Cruise is torn with leaving, and his turned back over to the Japanese Government. When he arrives back at camp, he finds a Japanese army that is not weak and unprepared, like he left them, but finds troops armed and dangerous. He is now faced with the decision of assisting Japan in defeating the Samurai or rise up alongside Katsumoto. Capt. Algren knows that the Samurai cannot defeat an army of this magnitude and wants to give them as much help as his can.

Edward Zwick (Glory, Legends of the Fall) created an epic adventure in The Last Samurai, which was shot beautifully across 3 continents, with lavish costumes and excellent set pieces, and a score by Hans Zimmer that is striking and powerful, making this picture one of my favorites in a long time.

As far as the extras go, there are plenty on here. Featuring an audio commentary by Director Edward Zwick, as well as a few featurettes, and documentaries. I found the Production Design, Costume Design and Weaponry docs quite interesting. It was amazing how they can assemble such massive set pieces and make them look real, and the Samurai swords were awesome how they created them. I was a little disappointed in the deleted scenes. I know there were more than two deleted scenes you could have thrown on here. I would have liked to see more footage of Katsumoto, Taka, Ujio (Hiroyuki Sanada) as well as a piece on the scoring of this movie. For you Tom Cruise fans, their is plenty of him on the extras, with interviews and conversations with Ed Zwick, and a piece on The History Channel, comparing Hollywood to History. Also, I was disappointed not to see Oscar Nominated Ken Watanabe interviewed on this DVD as well. Overall, though, their is plenty of extras on here that you will enjoy.

-Audio Commentary by Director;
– DVD-Rom Features;
– Documentary History Vs. Hollywood
– Featurette
– Tom Cruse, A Warrior’s Journey
– Director’s Journal; A World Of Detail
– Production Design Documentary
– Silk & Armor
– Costume Design Documentary
– Weaponry & Imperial Army Documentary
– Interviews
– Japanese Premier Footage
-Theatrical Trailer -Deleted Scenes (2 of them)

ENGLISH: Dolby Digital 4.0 CC
FRENCH: Dolby Digital Surround

Widescreen 16×9 (Anamorphic)

English, French, Spanish

Favorite Scenes: Spectres in the Fog (Samurai storming the Forrest,) Final Battle, and how could you not say the NINJA VS SAMURAI fight. How awesome was that!
Rating: Rated R
Running Time: 154 minutes
Extras Rating:
Overall Rating: