For starters it has absolutely one of the best soundtracks ever, no doubt about it. It keeps you on the edge of your seat, while experiencing the sense of drama and romance. All at once! And this is realized through the music only. In combination with the scenes all of your synapses are on overload. One minor point is, that the movie contains almost no other sound scores and one must settle for the soundtrack in mostly every scene.
Next up is the scenery. Michael Mann KNOWS what a good setting for a movie is. But even more does he KNOW how to get it over to your tv screen. Every camerashot couldn't have been taken better and entices you completely.
And that brings me to the action. The Last of the Mohicans portrays some of the best personal combat, comparable to a martial artists film, with actors seemingly to be as highly skilled as Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan. And this might not be to everyones liking, but the movie often shows very realistic gory details, like broken bones showing through skin and weapons penetrating a body.
Now I have reached the last reason for the greatness of this film and why it belongs amongst Gladiator and its kind. The viewer receives a massive dose of the entire scala of emotional triggers: romance, intrigue, action, drama and adventure. And above that, the story stays credible. Something Braveheart and consorts passed by. Because the main lead is of flesh and blood and isn't made into a superhuman hero that can defeat anything on his path it keep it's credibility!
Though I would like to stop now, I need to deal with one final point. The acting/actors. Don't get me wrong the acting was of high class, only the two lead characters, who were to convert the main love story to my screen, Daniel Day Lewis as Hawkeye and Madeleine Stowe as Cora Munro, were disappointing. To me neither of them could bring the story to life, because they just weren't convincing in their part and couldn't reach me. Fortunately, Wes Studi made up for a great deal of Daniel's doing as his best performance EVER as Magua, Daniel's counterpart. The other main characters were just as good as Studi. I liked them so much I just have to name them: Jodhi May as Alice Munro, Steven Waddington as Heyward, Eric Schweig as Uncas and Russell Means as Chingachgook! I would have loved for all of them to have twice as much screen time as they did, at the cost of the two leads! But hey you can't have everything.
Well I guess this is why it deserves to be amongst the other great epics. The music, the scenery, the action, the versatility and the acting are all of superb quality. You must be a fool not to watch this movie. And when you do, be sure to do so on a tv as large as possible and a superb soundsystem to bring out the full greatness of this classic!