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Last Samurai
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Last Samurai


Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Ed Hulse
Chalk up another complex, finely detailed characterization to Tom Cruise, whose portrayal of a dissolute warrior makes this opulently mounted film one of the very best in his increasingly distinguished oeuvre. Cruise plays Nathan Algren, a Civil War hero whose battlefield excesses have driven him into a permanent state of self-loathing. Cynical and opportunistic, he accepts a lucrative commission to go to Japan and train the emperor's army for a lengthy campaign against once-loyal samurai resentful of their monarch's embrace of Western culture. Algren is forced into a premature clash with these disciplined, highly skilled fighters and is captured when his insufficiently trained men beat a desperate retreat. This is where the story actually begins: We see this able but dissipated man grow to admire his captors and embrace their philosophy, gradually regaining his honor and sense of purpose under the watchful eye of his captor, samurai leader Katsumoto (Ken Watanabe). Algren's moral regeneration isn't accomplished overnight, and director Edward Zwick does a fine job of conveying the character's gradual transformation with pithy vignettes and relatively brief snatches of dialogue. He draws a sharp contrast between the principled, traditionalist samurai and the opportunistic Japanese businessmen who have persuaded the emperor to modernize the country and turn against the warrior brotherhood that has served the throne for hundreds of years. These machinations lead inevitably to a climactic battle that is one of the finer depictions of hand-to-hand encounters in recent memory. In fact, The Last Samurai has several such sequences, but it would be a mistake to label it an action film. Zwick and Cruise have made this remarkable story much more: a paean to honor, courage, and devotion to duty. It's a deeply absorbing and sometimes profoundly moving tale of regeneration and redemption, superbly visualized and brilliantly acted.

Product Details

Release Date:
Warner Home Video
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Special Features

Closed Caption; Commentary by director Edward Zwick ; Deleted scenes; Edward Zwick: Director's Video Journal; The History Channel documentary History vs. Hollywood; Tom Cruise: A Warrior's Journey; Making an Epic: A Conversation With Edward Zwick and Tom Cruise; A World of Detail: Production Design With Lilly Kilvert; Silk and Armor: Costume Design With Ngila Dickson; From Soldier to Samurai: The Weapons; Japan premieres; Imperial Army Basic Training; Theatrical trailer

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