2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Brilliant War Epic, But for one thing. . . . . Tom Cruise,
This review is from: The Last Samurai [DVD]  (DVD)
Director Edward Zwick was taking a chance when he chose Tom Cruise for the part of an American Civil War Hero who has lost his sense of honour, but Zwick manages to guide Cruise through the beautiful Japanese Countryside and through the film until the final, bloody showdown with American Forces.
The Japanese Government is fighting a losing battle with the legendary Samurai, who are a dying breed. In order to train their troops better, the goverment hire Nathan Algren (Cruise), an American Civil War Hero who has lost his sense of honour, but is determined to recapture it. Algren introduces a swift and brutal training regime to the nervous and unready Japanese Government troops, who are terrified of the Samurai. Algren insists that they aren't ready, but Colonel Bagley (Goldwyn) sends them into battle anyway. The troops are slaughtered by the Samurai, and Algren is left by himself facing of the Samurai, he fights bravely, but is captured. However, the lead Samurai, Katsumoto (Watanabe) sees Algren's defences against his men and refuses to execute him. He sees potential in Algren and trains him in the ancient ways of the samurai. Gradually, Algren's sense of honour is restored and he rides out with the Samurai for a final, decisive and bloody showdown with the Forces that he was supposed to be training, headed by the Japanese Government and Colonel Bagley.
Zwick's direction is nothing short of perfect, but the film's one letdown is Tom Cruise, he's an American being trained in the ways of the samurai, only pure-blooded Japanese Fighters can be taught the Ways of the Samurai. But if you ignore that glitch, this is a breathtaking Japanese War Epic that never fails to disappoint, Zwick gives the viewer some exquisite shots of the beautiful Japanese Countryside, and some utterly outstanding battle scenes that show how the Samurai fought against their enemies and died with honour in the battlefield.