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
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.