There are a select number of films released that define the meaning of the word epic and The Last Samurai is one of those films. Tom Cruise portrays a troubled soldier who, after years drinking away the sights of battle, is asked to train any army who will march against the rising rebellion, led by the Samurai who want to stall the modernising of Japan. As he proves in films such as Minority Report, War of the Worlds and Collateral, Cruise is a brilliant actor, both in terms of action and emotion. Fellow cast members, including Timothy Spall, a brief Billy Connelly and an excellent Ken Watanabe all bring truth and talent to their roles.
Edward Zwick (Blood Diamond) directs and does a perfect job of it, having an eye for sweeping, epic shots of the breathtaking landscapes, for the gritty, violent action and battle sequences and the emotive scenes. The script is brilliantly written and Cruise is given plenty of material with which to test his skills and prove them. The score, by Hans Zimmer (Pirates of the Caribbean) is epic, stirring and moving and compliments the epic scale of the film. The battles are awesomely done, with Zwick not holding back on the violence and delivering some breath snatching, gripping moments, as well as some excellent sword fights. The cinematography is among the best i have seen, the landscapes are brought vividly to the screen and the japanse architecture and countryside make this film all the more engrossing.
Overall, this film is one of my favourites, it is epic and sweeping, gripping and action packed and its impossible not to be swept up in this film. A flawless, majestic film.
The single disc edition is the best choice for those not bothered with extras but for fans of the film the two disc edition is loaded with special features: commentaries, numerous featurettes, interviews and deleted scenes.