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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The Last Samurai (2003)
Only a top notch actor and first rate director could pull off a movie
where a scarwny American actor could play a fierce Japanese
Samurai.
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I wasn't going to pay to watch it, because I think it's ridiculous to accept Tom Cruise as a Japanese Samurai. I still do.

However, it was an excellent popcorn movie, like The Day After Tomorrow. After I started watching I couldn't stop!

Tom Cruise did another excellent acting job. He played Captain Nathan Algren, a veteran of America's Civil War and campaigns against Native Americans. Algren is a man searching for honor, but unable to find it, hiding in the Orient at the bottom of a liquor bottle ... until he is captured in a fierce battle by Samurai led by legendary warlord Katsumoto. Afterwards, those who had trouble believing Tom Cruise was a hardened, fierce American war veteran better rid themselves of any skepticism remaining, because nothing else makes sense.

Of course, Katsumoto is no homicidal maniac. He's a loveable, cultured warlord who writes poetry, except for the last line of his poem. Katsumoto puts wounded Captain Algren in the home of a warrior Algren killed in battle, forcing the widow to tend to Algren's needs. She has to nurse him through bouts of alcoholism, nurse his wounds, feed him and treat him as an honored guest. Her children are forced to live with the man who killed their daddy. Obviously, Katsumoto is an idiot, but the script writers bail him out. Algren earns the respect of the Samurai, the widow, and her children. One of the orphaned boys cries when Algren leaves the village to do battle, afraid he will not come back! The widow even insists Algren wear her late husband's armor! I know Japanese are different, but that's frankly beyond belief, so don't even try. Just munch on popcorn and watch.

There is little logic to the story. Captain Algren tells Katsumoto that General Custer was a fool who led his men to their death against a vastly superior force. Then, the same Algren devises a battle plan for Katsumoto to do the same thing! If that wan't enough, Algren even helped badly wounded Katsumoto commit suicide by sword, ensuring he wouold die on the battlefield like Custer! About 500 Samurai were killed in a futile battle, which obviously left many families without fathers. It was rather stupid, and how Tom Cruise's character could find honor in it baffled me.

I didn't get a good look at the period rifles, but at least they showed them not to be smokeless. Cruise is shown with a Winchester 1873, but the Japanese militia are given what appear to be front loaders, of some kind.

It is a good film, so long as the viewer is able to discontinue reason.
 

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Mystic Knight of the Sea
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Kewl, good report AC.

Is it available at movie rental stores? If so, I'll probably head that way this weekend.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
It's on HBO this week, so I know its available on video.

I've had second thoughts. Is it really so unbelievable that a scrawny American could be accepted among a band of Japanese warriors?

T.E. Lawrence was a very scrawny Englishman who not only was accepted by Arab warriors, but was nearly revered as a Prophet! So, maybe this could be viewed as a sort of Lawrence in Arabia, only set in Japan a few decades earlier?
 

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The widowed woman Katsumoto had nurse Algren back to health is also Katsumoto's sister, the man Algren killed was his brothe in law.

The whole gist of the story, where the honor comes in, is the samurai were the traditional protectors of the emperor after the Shogun era. Katsumoto was once the Emperor's teacher. However that fat Japanese diplomat dude was convincing the Emperor to open up trade with the outside world, and to banish the samurai. They made it illegal for the samurai to wear their swords. A samurai without a master becomes a lowly mercenary, a ronin. And if stripped of their swords, you may as well commit sepukku.

The samurai were replaced with the "modern" Japanese army....the samurai had no place left to go, no options left. For them, their honor required them to fight the battle. They would rather die in the battle than succumb to the new rules. Don't forget the followed Bushido, which can be a very strange code, with strict rules. That is why the old general allowed himself to be beheaded in the first battle. He was a samurai, and he stuck by the emperor and became part of the new army. Allowing Katsumoto to behead him allowed him to regain some if his honor he lost by leaving the samurai.

It is the code of Bushido which many Japanese officers and men followed so strictly that made them such bastard in WWII. To them, because of Bushido, anyone who surrendered willingly was not human, they did not deserve any mercy because they had no honor (according to their code)....

Because Algren fought fiercely and with honor until the end when he passed out due to his wounds, he was spared, and nursed back to health. Katsumoto wanted to study him, then when he refused to give up with the sword training after getting his ass continually kicked, he earned more of their respect.

So you can't really compare their battle with Custers battle, since the Japanese had a completely different view of war and honor......

It is a really good movie, and pretty well done for Hollywood.....
 

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Gunco Samurai
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I really like it, all except for the end. I thought it was BS that Algren lived.
 

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I think this is a excellent movie in how it shows, how fat cat politicos can ruin a country..

Sort of like what is happening here..
 

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Class 07 FFL/SOT
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Duty,Honor,Country.

The code of the warrior.
 

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DADDY WARBUCKS
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It is somewhat an analogy to the Islamic battle we see today.

The forces of tradition that want to keep the middle ages alive vs. those who want to move into the modern world.
 

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Yeah, but the muslim scumbags have no honor or code....the samurai would never have killed children or innocents on purpose. The muslims have shown that they are willing to kill anyone and everyone to achieve their goal of a muslim world. I see your point as a general broad view, but I certainly wouldn't compare the muslims with samurai....
 

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DADDY WARBUCKS
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pzjgr said:
Yeah, but the muslim scumbags have no honor or code....the samurai would never have killed children or innocents on purpose. The muslims have shown that they are willing to kill anyone and everyone to achieve their goal of a muslim world. I see your point as a general broad view, but I certainly wouldn't compare the muslims with samurai....
I certainly understand your point and I am not a samurai expert but what little I have read they had no problem killing innocents but perhaps not children.

Their modern heirs certainly had little problems with innocents be them women or children. The rape of Nanking immediately comes to mind.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
After more reflection, I am leveling this accusation against The Last Samurai. It is a rip-off of the highly acclaimed Lawrence of Arabia. It's almost an identical story, only set in Japan, rather than the Middle East. Here are some common elements:

(1) We have a scrawny Brit/American sent overseas to a strange culture. He goes native and leads heroic warriors in battle.

(2) The government double deals. In Lawrence, the government lies to Lawrence with the intent to dominate the Middle East. In Last Samurai, the government lies to the Emperor, so it can dominate a westernized Japan.

One difference is the Arabs did not all die at the end. They just resumed their tribal ways. All in all, it would suggest that Tom Cruise wanted to reprise a "Lawrence of Arabia" type role, as that which propelled Peter O'Toole to oscar-winning stardom.

Still, the movie was fun to watch. The scene with the Samurai galloping from the mist into battle was awesome, but nothing new. Such majestic scenes are commonplace in Japanese Samurai movies.

Anyone who liked Last Samurai should try the real thing. Go to the public library - to the ninternational film section, and check out a Japanese movie. It will have subtitles, but you won't need 'em! Anything with Toshiro Mifume (The "Japanese John Wayne") is well-worth watching. I took several home for the kids to watch, and they were riveted to the set.

You might first think that Japanese films are too foreign, but that isn't true. Anyone who enjoyed the classic western movie, "The Magnificent Seven," may be surprised to learn that is is a remake of the "The Seven Samurai."
 

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DADDY WARBUCKS
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Everything is plagarism after the Bible or perhaps Shakespeare for the non-relgious.
 
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