7.7/10
396,523
1,048 user 170 critic

The Last Samurai (2003)

Trailer
0:31 | Trailer
An American military advisor embraces the Samurai culture he was hired to destroy after he is captured in battle.

Director:

Edward Zwick

Writers:

John Logan (story), John Logan (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
Popularity
1,068 ( 138)
Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 21 wins & 62 nominations. See more awards »

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Photos

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Ken Watanabe ... Katsumoto
Tom Cruise ... Nathan Algren
William Atherton ... Winchester Rep
Chad Lindberg ... Winchester Rep Assistant
Ray Godshall Sr. Ray Godshall Sr. ... Convention Hall Attendee
Billy Connolly ... Zebulon Gant
Tony Goldwyn ... Colonel Bagley
Masato Harada ... Omura
Masashi Odate ... Omura's Companion
John Koyama ... Omura's Bodyguard
Timothy Spall ... Simon Graham
Shichinosuke Nakamura ... Emperor Meiji
Togo Igawa ... General Hasegawa
Satoshi Nikaido Satoshi Nikaido ... N.C.O.
Shintaro Wada Shintaro Wada ... Young Recruit

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Storyline

In the 1870s, Captain Nathan Algren (Tom Cruise), 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 (Masato Harada) 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 (Ken Watanabe) 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... Written by KGF Vissers

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Action | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The Japanese character that the Taka's elder son paints and gives to Algren is the character for "samurai". See more »

Goofs

During the ninja fight when Katsumoto is at a stand-off with two ninjas, one ninja has a sword and the other is holding two sai. In a close-up of the ninjas, both are holding swords, and then in the next shot of both ninjas, they have their original weapons again. See more »

Quotes

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.
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Crazy Credits

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

Connections

Featured in WatchMojo: Top 10 Sensei Masters in Movies and TV (2015) See more »

Soundtracks

Kagura-No-Netori
Performed by Tokyo Gakuso
Courtesy of Columbia Music Entertainment, Inc.
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User Reviews

 
"Success is a journey, not a destination" - Zen saying
30 August 2004 | by revere-7See all my reviews

The Last Samurai is a strictly by-the-numbers samurai epic set in 1876-1877 Japan. All the necessary ingredients are here - beautiful Japanese landscapes and costumes, larger than life battlefield sequences, and eastern philosophy.Although the pageantry is not as beautiful as such samurai epics as "Heaven and Earth", it is more than adequate.

Do not, however go into this film expecting "Kill Bill", grindhouse type swordplay nor the poignancy of a Kurosawa piece. Instead, "The Last Samurai" occupies the middle ground; a human story of one Westerner learning to embrace another culture kind of a mixture of "Dances With Wolves" and "Shogun", films from which it derives almost directly. And this is the films greatest flaw. It is utterly predictable. No spoilers here, we all know what happens to the samurai. If not, the title ought to give you a clue. Every scene is one that you were expecting to see. And the ending is the ending you expect.

But Zwick and co. still manage to weave an engaging story with panache, and a climactic (despite it's predictability) ending, and that is why "The Last Samurai" is such a great film. As the Zen saying goes, "Success is a journey, not a destination". It is equally applicable to the samurai in the film, and the film itself. A success. 8/10.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Official Sites:

Official site

Country:

USA | New Zealand | Japan

Language:

English | Japanese

Release Date:

5 December 2003 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Last Samurai: Bushidou See more »

Filming Locations:

Santa Clarita, California, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$140,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$24,271,354, 7 December 2003

Gross USA:

$111,127,263

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$454,627,263
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »

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