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The Last Samurai (2003)

R  |   |  Action, Drama, History  |  5 December 2003 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 295,519 users   Metascore: 55/100
Reviews: 923 user | 189 critic | 44 from

An American military advisor embraces the Samurai culture he was hired to destroy after he is captured in battle.



(story), (screenplay), 2 more credits »
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Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 19 wins & 45 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Ray Godshall Sr. ...
Shichinosuke Nakamura ...
Satoshi Nikaido ...
Shintaro Wada ...


In the 1870s, Captain Nathan Algren, a cynical veteran of the American Civil war who will work for anyone, is hired by Americans who want lucrative contracts with the Emperor of Japan to train the peasant conscripts for the first standing imperial army in modern warfare using firearms. The imperial Omura cabinet's first priority is to repress a rebellion of traditionalist Samurai -hereditary warriors- who remain devoted to the sacred dynasty but reject the Westernizing policy and even refuse firearms. Yet when his ill-prepared superior force sets out too soon, their panic allows the sword-wielding samurai to crush them. Badly wounded Algren's courageous stand makes the samurai leader Katsumoto spare his life; once nursed to health he learns to know and respect the old Japanese way, and participates as advisor in Katsumoto's failed attempt to save the Bushido tradition, but Omura gets repressive laws enacted- he must now choose to honor his loyalty to one of the embittered sides when ... Written by KGF Vissers

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


In the face of an enemy, in the Heart of One Man, Lies the Soul of a Warrior.


Action | Drama | History | War

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong violence and battle sequences | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:

| |  »


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Release Date:

5 December 2003 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Samurai  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$140,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$2,630,243 (Japan) (5 December 2003)


$111,110,575 (USA) (2 April 2004)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Historically, the only westerners fighting in the Japanese civil war were French military advisers under Jules Brunet who joined the Shogun's army. Even if most of them were fighting with French equipment, some did wear the samurai attire (like Eugene Collache). See more »


Colonel Bagley mentions that the new Gatling guns possessed by the Japanese Imperial Army are capable of firing 200 rounds per minute. Unless the "new" guns are very early versions of the Gatling Gun (this is not what is shown), his statement is incorrect. By the 1870s Gatling Guns had a rate of fire of at least 800 rounds per minute and, depending on the specific model, significantly higher rates. See more »


Simon Graham: [first lines]
Simon Graham: [narrating] They say Japan was made by a sword. They say the old gods dipped a coral blade into the ocean, and when they pulled it out four perfect drops fell back into the sea, and those drops became the islands of Japan. I say, Japan was made by a handful of brave men. Warriors, willing to give their lives for what seems to have become a forgotten word: honor.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The opening Warner Bros. logo is light blue on a solid black background. See more »


Featured in HBO First Look: The Last Samurai: An Epic Journey (2003) See more »


Performed by Tokyo Gakuso
Courtesy of Columbia Music Entertainment, Inc.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Wonderful Film
13 March 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I disagree with a lot of the reviews of this film. Yes, it is true that it does glorify a lifestyle in an exaggerated and unfairly sublime way, but I think we're missing the point. This film is romanticism vs. modernism. It's purity vs. corruption. It's not so much the premise or believability, but the substance behind it.

Tom Cruise is an actor who is both idolized (by fans) and ridiculed (by critics) In this film he dazzles us as a drunken U.S General haunted by a bloody past. I was pushing for him to get an Oscar Nod, but alas, None came. "The Last Samurai" wasn't particularly well received and that was disconcerting to me. I'd recommend it to anyone with a taste for romance and for anyone who simply longs for a little less "celebrity wedding" and a little more "help the old lady across the road".

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Can really a sword cut through a rifle? Max-178
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White people immune to gatling guns? dannyallova
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