Saturday, 26 May 2012

Fight Movie The Last Samurai

The Last Samurai

Directed by
Produced by
Screenplay by
John Logan
Edward Zwick
Marshall Herskovitz
Story by
Music by
John Toll
Editing by
Radar Pictures
Bedford Falls Company
Distributed by
Warner Bros. Pictures
Release date(s)
December 5, 2003
Running time
154 minutes
$140 million
Box office
The Last Samurai is a 2003 American epic drama film directed and co-produced by Edward Zwick, who also co-wrote the screenplay with writer John Logan. The film stars Tom Cruise, who also co-produced, as well as Ken Watanabe, Shin Koyamada, Tony Goldwyn, Hiroyuki Sanada, Timothy Spall and Billy Connolly. Inspired by a project by Vincent Ward, it interested Edward Zwick and Ward later served as executive producer. The film production went ahead with Zwick and was shot in Ward’s native New Zealand.
Cruise portrays American officer Nathan Algren, whose personal and emotional conflicts bring him into contact with samurai warriors in the wake of the Meiji Restoration in 19th Century Japan. The film's plot was inspired by the 1877 Satsuma Rebellion led by Saigō Takamori, and on the westernization of Japan by colonial powers, though this is largely attributed to the United States in the film for American audiences.
The Last Samurai was well received upon release, with a worldwide box office of $456 million. It was nominated for several awards, including the Academy Awards, the Golden Globes and the National Board of Review.


In 1876, Captain Nathan Algren (Tom Cruise) is traumatized by massacring Native Americans in the Indian Wars and has become an alcoholic, relating war stories to audiences. Algren is approached by former colleagues Zebulon Gant (Billy Connolly) and Colonel Bagley (Tony Goldwyn), whom he despises for the massacre, on behalf of businessman Mr. Omura (Masato Harada). Accompanied by British translator Simon Graham (Timothy Spall), Algren must train conscripts of the new Meiji government of Japan to suppress a samurai rebellion against Western influence, led by Katsumoto (Ken Watanabe).
The conscripts are sent to fight early and are routed when engaging the samurai. Gant is killed and Algren is captured after killing a red-armoured samurai, Hirotaro. Katsumoto is reminded of a vision of a tiger while watching Algren fight with an embroidered spear and orders his capture. Taken to the samurai village, Algren is treated by Hirotaro's widow Taka and Katsumoto's son, Nobutada (Shin Koyamada) and overcomes his trauma. He begins to converse with Katsumoto, study swordsmanship under Ujio (Hiroyuki Sanada) and apologizes to Taka for Hirotaro's death which she accepts because of the honour of battle. Growing closer to her and her children, he later helps defend the village from an ambush by Omura's ninja.
In spring, Algren is taken back to Tokyo as promised. The Imperial Japanese army have become better organized with American equipment and Omura offers Algren command if he reveals information on the rebels, but Algren declines so privately Omura orders his death. Katsumoto offers his counsel to the young Emperor, but finds the Emperor's control is weak. When Katsumoto refuses to obey the new law to not display swords, he is arrested. Algren fights off Omura's men and frees Katsumoto with the assistance of Ujio, Nobutada and Graham. Nobutada is severely wounded as they escape, sacrificing himself to slow the guards. Katsumoto mourns, but receives word that a large Imperial Army group led by Omura and Bagley will engage them. Five hundred samurai are rallied as Algren references the Battle of Thermopylae. On the eve of battle, Algren is presented with a katana, kisses Taka and wears Hirotaro's red armour as a symbol of respect to her.
In battle, the samurai fall back, preventing the Imperial army from using their full firepower. As they expect, Omura orders the infantry to advance, straight into their fire trap. The samurai then unleash a rain of arrows as a wave of swordsmen, including Katsumoto and Algren, attack. A second infantry wave advance, only to be countered by Ujio's samurai cavalry, with many dead on both sides. Realizing that fresh Imperial forces are coming, the samurai resolve to fight to the death in a final charge. Algren hurls his sword at Bagley, fatally wounding his nemesis, but the samurai are finally cut down by Gatling guns. Moved by the sight of his dying countrymen, the Imperial captain stops the fire, defying Omura's orders. Katsumoto, observing Bushido, asks Algren to assist. Katsumoto dies and the Imperial soldiers kneel and bow around the fallen samurai.
Later, the American ambassador prepares to have the Emperor sign a treaty, but an injured Algren offers Katsumoto's sword. The Emperor realizes that whilst Japan must modernize, it must never forget its own history and traditions. The Emperor dismisses the American ambassador over Omura's objections, and in return confiscates Omura's fortunes to be given to the people. Graham, who was given Algren's belongings to help write a book, states that Algren found peace by returning to Taka and the village.


  • Tom Cruise as Captain Nathan Algren
    He is a Civil War and Indian Wars veteran haunted by the massacre of Native American civilians at the Washita River. Algren was born in the British Empire but is a naturalized American. Following a dismissal from his job, he agrees to help the new Meiji Restoration government train its first Western-style conscript army for a hefty sum. During the army's first battle he is captured by the samurai Katsumoto and taken to the village of Katsumoto's son, where he soon becomes intrigued with the way of the samurai and decides to join them in their cause. His journal entries reveal his impressions about traditional Japanese culture, which almost immediately evolve to admiration. The character is inspired by the French officer Jules Brunet.
  • Ken Watanabe as samurai Lord Moritsugu Katsumoto
    He is a warrior-poet who was once Emperor Meiji's most-trusted teacher. He is displeased with Mr. Omura's bureaucratic reform policies, which leads him into organizing a revolt against the Imperial Army. Katsumoto is vaguely based on real-life samurai Saigō Takamori.
  • Shin Koyamada as Nobutada
    He is the son of Katsumoto who is lord of the village that the Samurai are encamped in and befriends Algren. Katsumoto, the leader samurai, advises Nobutada to teach Algren in the Japanese way – Japanese culture and Japanese language. He is killed during Katsumoto's escape.
  • Tony Goldwyn as Colonel Bagley
    He is Captain Algren's commanding officer in the 7th Cavalry Regiment, who was to train the Imperial Army and the secondary antagonist of the film. Algren despises Bagley for his role in the Washita River massacre of the Native Americans that Algren cannot get over. In a flashback, we see Bagley murdering children and women in the Indians camp. Bagley bears close resemblance to General Custer (whom Algren dubs "a murderer who fell in love with his own legend"). Bagley is killed by Algren in the final battle when Algren throws his sword into his chest.
  • Masato Harada as Omura
    He is an industrialist and pro-reform politician who dislikes the old samurai and shogun related lifestyle and the primary antagonist of the film. He quickly imports westernization and modernization while making money for himself through his railroads. Coming from a merchant family that was like many repressed during the days of Samurai rule and cause for his extreme dislike for their nobility, he assumes a great deal of power during the Meiji Restoration and takes advantages of Meiji's youth to become his chief advisor (wielding power similar to those of the Shoguns). His image is designed to evoke the image of Okubo Toshimichi, a leading reformer during the Meiji Restoration. Masato Harada noted that he was deeply interested in joining the film after witnessing the construction of Emperor Meiji's conference room on sound stage 19 (where Humphrey Bogart had once acted) at Warner Brothers studios.
  • Shichinosuke Nakamura as Emperor Meiji
    He is credited with the implementation of the 1868 Meiji Restoration, the Emperor is eager to import Western ideas and practices to modernize and empower Japan to become a strong nation. His appearance bears a strong resemblance to Emperor Meiji during the 1860s rather than during the 1870s, when The Last Samurai takes place.
  • Hiroyuki Sanada as Ujio
    He is one of the most dedicated, loyal and fierce samurai under Katsumoto. He teaches Algren the art of Samurai sword fighting, none too gently but eventually grows to respect him. He is one of the remaining samurai to die in the final charge in the last battle.
  • Timothy Spall as Simon Graham
    He is a British interpreter for Captain Algren and his non-English speaking soldiers. Initially portrayed as a typical practical-minded Englishman, he later comes to understand the Samurai cause. This character is shown to have some resemblances also to the real-world Corfiote photographer Felice Beato.
  • Seizo Fukumoto as the Silent Samurai
    He is an elderly man assigned to follow Algren (who later calls the samurai "Bob") as he travels through the village. Ultimately, the Samurai saves Algren's life (and speaking for the first and only time, "Algren-san!") by taking a fatal bullet for him. He bears a marked resemblance to Kyuzo from Seven Samurai.
  • Koyuki as Taka
    She is the sister of Katsumoto and the wife of the red-masked Samurai Hirotaro, whom Nathan Algren kills earlier.
  • Billy Connolly as Sergeant Zebulon Gant
    He is an ex-soldier who served with and is loyal to Algren, talked him into coming to Japan. He, along with Algren, train the imperial army before confronting the samurai. He is later killed in the opening battle by Hirotaro (Taka's husband).
  • Shun Sugata as Nakao
    He is a tall jujutsu and naginata-skilled samurai, who takes part in Katsumoto's rescue, and is later killed in the final battle.
  • Satoshi Nikaido as the Lieutenant
    He is one of the first soldiers trained by Algren, who manages to escape from the battle where Algren is captured. He later reappears as Omura's aide in the final confrontation; distressed at the slaughter of the remaining samurai, he defies Omura by ordering the guns to stop firing so that Katsumoto can die with honor.


The Last Samurai You Tube




Filming took place in New Zealand, mostly in the Taranaki region, with Japanese cast members and an American production crew. Views of Mount Fuji were superimposed using CGI of Mount Fuji as seen from Yokohama. Several of the village scenes were shot on the Warner Brothers Studios backlot in Burbank, California.
The film is based on an original screenplay entitled "The Last Samurai", from a story by John Logan. The project itself was inspired by writer and director Vincent Ward. Ward became executive producer on the film – working in development on it for nearly four years and after approaching several directors (Coppola, Weir), he interested Edward Zwick. The film production went ahead with Zwick and was shot in Ward’s native New Zealand.
The film was based on the stories of Jules Brunet, a French army captain who fought alongside Enomoto Takeaki in the earlier Boshin War and Frederick Townsend Ward, an American mercenary who helped Westernize the Chinese army by forming the Ever Victorious Army. The historical roles of the British Empire, the Netherlands and France in Japanese westernization are largely attributed to the United States in the film, for American audiences.


All music by Hans Zimmer. Performed by The Hollywood Studio Symphony, conducted by Blake Neely.
  1. "A Way of Life" 8:03
  2. "Spectres in the Fog" 4:07
  3. "Taken" 3:36
  4. "A Hard Teacher" 5:44
  5. "To Know My Enemy" 4:49
  6. "Idyll's End" 6:41
  7. "Safe Passage" 4:57
  8. "Ronin" 1:53
  9. "Red Warrior" 3:56
  10. "The Way of the Sword" 7:59
  11. "A Small Measure of Peace" 7:59


     The Last Samurai Image



The film achieved higher box office receipts in Japan than in the USA. Critical reception in Japan was generally positive. Tomomi Katsuta of The Mainichi Shinbun thought that the film was "a vast improvement over previous American attempts to portray Japan", noting that director Edward Zwick "had researched Japanese history, cast well-known Japanese actors and consulted dialogue coaches to make sure he didn't confuse the casual and formal categories of Japanese speech." However, Katsuta still found fault with the film's idealistic, "storybook" portrayal of the samurai, stating that "Our image of samurai are that they were more corrupt." As such, he said, the noble samurai leader Katsumoto "set (his) teeth on edge." The Japanese premiere was held at Roppongi Hills multiplex in Tokyo on November 1, 2003. The entire cast was present; they signed autographs, provided interviews and appeared on stage to speak to fans. Many of the cast members expressed the desire for audiences to learn and respect the important values of the samurai, and to have a greater appreciation of Japanese culture and custom.
In America, Chicago Sun-Times critic Roger Ebert gave the film three-and-a-half stars out of four, saying it was "beautifully designed, intelligently written, acted with conviction, it's an uncommonly thoughtful epic." Motoko Rich of The New York Times observed that the film has opened up a debate, "particularly among Asian-Americans and Japanese," about whether the film and others like it were "racist, naïve, well-intentioned, accurate – or all of the above." The film currently has a positive rating of 7.7/10 on IMDB, and mixed rating on Metacritic of 55 out of 100. Rotten Tomatoes has a rating of 65%, with the site's consensus stating "With high production values and thrilling battle scenes, The Last Samurai is a satisfying epic."
The film was nominated for four Academy Awards; Best Supporting Actor (Ken Watanabe), Art Direction, Costume Design and Sound (Andy Nelson, Anna Behlmer and Jeff Wexler). It was also nominated for three Golden Globes (Best Supporting Actor for Watanabe, Best Actor - Drama for Tom Cruise and Best Score for Hans Zimmer). Awards won by the film include Best Director by the National Board of Review, Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects at the Visual Effects Society Awards, Outstanding Foreign Language Film at the Japan Academy Prize, four Golden Satellite Awards, and Best Fire Stunt at the Taurus World Stunt Awards. 

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