The Last Samurai (2003)

Directed by Edward Zwick

Starring Tom Cruise, Kate Watanabe, Tony Goldwin, Hiroyuki Sanada, Billy Conolly

If there is a film that deserved more recognition in award season, I think it was this one. But I think the subject of the film did not allow the film to be better recognized. Receiving nominations for art direction, costume, and supportive actor for Watanabe, the film deserved more, especially for Best Picture and best actor for Cruise.

The film starts as a regretful Nathan Algren drunk has to perform a show narrating how the army defeated the Indians. Approached by his former commanding officer to help the Japanese defeat the Samurai who are rebelling against a new forward-thinking Japan. When Nathan is taken captive by the samurai his starts to fall in love with their ways and their culture.

This is a film that has a lot of great combinations. Great directing, great actions sequences, a great story, and great performances. I love the transformation in Algren and how it was handled in the film. And also the transition of the samurai toward this man. I love the scene where Algren faces the samurai and just won’t stay down. This is a film with a lot of epic moments and it’s still just as great now as it was the first time I saw it.

The performances a great in this film. Starting with Tom Cruise in what I believe is among his best performances. An actor who I believe is overdue for an Oscar, this one was a good chance for that. It was the year of Mystic River and Penn, but still, I believe Cruise gave a better performance. Kate Watanabe was great in his oscar-nominated role and Hiroyuki Sanada was also great. The whole cast I believe were right on point with their portrayals.

I read that the film had controversy because Japan felt the film romanticized the samurai and that in real life they were corrupt, I don’t know about that and for me, this is a story, not a historic-based film. It might have taken events and made the story around it so I don’t mind if it romanticized the samurai. I just think the movie is great.

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