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Review of the Last Samurai

Posted by phduffy on 2004-01-25 11:32:02
14 forum posts
The Last Samurai stars Tom Cruise as a drunk former US military man that's haunted by what he's done in the past. He also wrote about the Indians, and lived with them for a time. This makes him the perfect man to be recruited by the amazing Billy Connoly for a trip to Japan.

It seems that Japan is having a hard time, as many of the forces of the government want them to move forward and become more honourable, while some people (AKA the SAMURAIS!) like the old ways. Cruise is expected to go over and train the Japanese army how to whup ass. It's thought that me might have some insight, as Indians might be similar to the Samurai.

As you probably know if you've seen the trailer, Cruise gets captured by the Samurai, and while a captive he begins to have second thoughts about their destruction. I live leave the plot summary at that.

There is tons of awesomeness in this movie. To begin with, anything that happened in Japan until about 100 years ago was amazing (honour, Samurais, elder gods, emperors) in a way that modern Japan just can't match (Pokemon, panties and bukkake). At one point in this movie, the bad guys send an assassination force to kill the Samurais. The assassination force is made up of NINJAS~!~!! With Ninja stars and stuff! So you get the sneaky Ninjas versus the honourable Samurai!

There's also real emotion in this movie. While there's a slight romance, I felt that the real relationship was between Cruise and the young son of one of the Samurais was better done and pretty interesting.

Now, I'm sure historians probably don't like this movie much. Samurais using swords fighting an army with guns? You know what? I don't care that it's not accurate, it's amazing. Seeing the Samurais dressed up in their demon Samurai costumes going out and whupping ass was just too cool for me to worry about accuracy

Ultimately, the Samurais have the tragic weakness of an inability to change. They are so tied up to their honour, that there is no other option but to continue with the old ways as opposed to adapting. While you may or may not agree with their choice of action, you can certainly respect them.

While it's true that the story of a former hero who becomes an alcoholic and then has to redeem himself isn't that original, at least this story provides us with a different setting. Instead of a Western, we travel to Japan, for a different take on this archetype. Additionally, there are reasons that some things become clichés - that being that they are awesome. And the redemption of a hero is one of those awesome clichés (as opposed to the fall in love, out of love, in love cliché of a romantic comedy that is just overplayed).

A few years ago I saw Canadian historical fiction/fantasy writer Guy Gavriel Kay give a presentation to an English class. Someone asked him if he thought that the then upcoming Lord of the Rings movie would make it possible for his books to made into movies. He said that Hollywood always just does what's successful, so that while he hadn't had any interest in his books, he could see more Fantasy movies being made. This hasn't really been the case, as only Harry Potter and LOTR are big budget fantasy movies. However, I think we have seen a slight shift towards Epic movies by Hollywood, and that's fantastic. While it's true that there have always been Epic movies, there seem to be more of them lately, from Gladiator, LOTR, the Last Samurai, the upcoming Troy, etc. I think this is a great trend, and I am very happy to see these sweeping epics on the big screen. The Last Samurai is a fine addition to that category.
  14 forum posts