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The Last Samurai (2003)

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9/10: Cruise and Watanabe conquer with...
Sunday, December 14, 2003

Cruise and Watanabe conquer with great performances It is said that the only thing constant is change. Old ideals die off, and new technologies replace the inefficiencies of yesteryear. The young usually have little trouble adjusting to change, but traditionalists are often dragged into the new era either kicking and screaming or silently resolved to remove themselves completely."The Last Samurai" manages to capture a little of both, with Japanese men living in a world in transition from ancient bushido rituals of honor into a more modern empire of industry and trade. A sweeping historical epic that hints at the brilliance of Akira Kurosawa's finest work while also invoking the melancholy of a Shakespearean tragedy, the movie is a reminder of the cost of high ideals and danger of industrial conformity.It's 1876, and Captain Nathan Algren (Tom Cruise) is an alcoholic wreck of a man. A veteran of the Civil War as well as General Custer's...

3/10: A Hollow, Confused Vanilla Epic...
Monday, January 26, 2004

A Hollow, Confused Vanilla Epic Why did they bother? What a shallow, confused, obvious and ultimately chaotic mess.I love samurai films. I have a love of Japan and a love of Japanese films. I can watch even a bad Japanese film because the minute of the Japanese environment can captivate and engross. Yet the Last Samurai is so stripped of meaning, detail or subtlety that I came away wondering why they bothered.The Last Samurai runs an epic, humourless two and a half hours. it seemed much longer.The Meiji Restoration is a fascinating period of Japanese history. The Last Samurai examines it with all a finese and insight that can only come of producing it entirely in New Zealand. Japan looks a lot like Middle Earth. Come to think of it, the badlands of Little Big Horn look a lot like Middle Earth. No amount of blue tinting can disguise this basic, unsettling visual impairment. In the first...

5/10: Dances with Samurai Directed by...
Monday, January 24, 2005

Dances with Samurai Directed by Edward Zwick, "The Last Samurai" is the story of Civil War veteran Nathan Algren (Tom Cruise), a man who is fighting his inner demons that originated from some actions against Native Americans that he didn't feel so good about. So he drinks a lot and is a freelance military adviser. His latest assignment is to go to Tokyo with some former colleagues and train the Emperor's troops in modern weaponry so they can defeat the last of the country's Samurai. During their first battle, he is captured by the Samurai who then take him under their wing, helping him heal his wounds and teaching him how to fight, etc. When the time comes to return back to his "rightful" place, he makes the choice to fight with the Samurai, who he now relates to most of all.I'll say it right out of the box I really didn't like this...

5/10: Dances with Samurai Imagine someone...
Monday, March 24, 2008

Dances with Samurai Imagine someone giving you a neatly wrapped, elegant package: you open it and it's empty. That's what blockbusters like The Last Samurai feel like: great photography, costumes and set design, an A-list star surrounded by solid character actors, a few nicely choreographed scenes... and yet it's vapid, pointless fare.Lt. John Dunbar - I'm sorry, I meant Captain Nathan Algren (Cruise) - trains the Japanese Emperor's troops against rebel Samurai led by Katsumoto (Ken Watanabe). Of course Algren is the only survivor of a disastrous skirmish caused by his superiors' arrogant incompetence, of course he is captured, of course he discovers the nobility of the Samurai way of life contrasting with the sleazy mediocrity of their enemies - not the young Emperor, who, of course, is misguided but noble, although not as noble as Katsumoto, who of course comes across as a mix between Crazy Horse and Obi-wan Kenobi.Question of the week...

1/10: a disappointing movie if you...
Friday, November 25, 2005

a disappointing movie if you have watched Japanese films about samurais I like Japanese movies and I like movies about samurais and for some reason after I saw the ads I bought a ticket and went to the cinema to watch it. I expected something like the "Shogun" with it holliwoodish but still interesting entertaining exploration of Japanese culture. But what I saw was so cheesy that walking out of the theatre I felt like I start hating Tom Cruise for lurking me into the 2 hour popcorn- for-the-brains show. I always expected Tom Cruise to finally die, but he never did. Instead he went on chopping the samurais (who, supposedly dedicated all their life to the sword fighting art) right and left. The scenes where he trains with the master of sword remind me all those hundreds of cheesy Rambo-Kickboxer movies where the white Americans kick the asses of their Asian adversaries in the field of...

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