The Last Samurai

  • 15
  • Edward Zwick (2003)
  • US (SUB)
  • 147 min
The Last Samurai
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Film Review
Reviewed By
4 out of 5

Hollywood's image of the "noble savage" is applied to the 19th-century Japanese samurai in this sweeping action drama from director Edward Zwick. Reminiscent of Zwick's Glory and Legends of the Fall, it charts a poignant personal odyssey prompted by the clash of old and new cultures. Tom Cruise plays a disillusioned US captain hired by the young Japanese emperor to train the country's first modern conscript army. After leading an inadequate campaign against the samurai warriors, the military man is captured by these alleged national enemies who teach him to reassess his beliefs and values. An epic movie in every way, the beautifully shot tale pours with emotion, from its strong storyline and robust performances to its spine-tingling and bloody battle sequences. Though the film suffers from being overly idealistic and occasionally stereotypical, its heart is in the right place, while the attention to detail and extensive use of subtitled language adds extra authenticity. Cruise handles his role well, but it's Ken Watanabe's dignified turn as samurai leader Katsumoto that captivates.

Plot Summary

Period action drama, starring Tom Cruise. In 1876, after witnessing the US military brutality against native Americans, Captain Nathan Algren turns to drink to escape his battle nightmares. Hired by the young Japanese emperor to train the country's first modern, conscript army, Algren is forced to lead an inadequate campaign against the ancient line of Japanese warriors, the Samurai. But when he is captured by these alleged national enemies, he begins to doubt his mission.

Cast and crew


Captain Nathan Algren
Tom Cruise
Simon Graham
Timothy Spall
Sergeant Zebulon Gant
Billy Connolly
Colonel Benjamin Bagley
Tony Goldwyn
Ken Watanabe
Hiroyuki Sanada
Emperor Meiji
Shichinosuke Nakamura
Shun Sugata
Silent Samurai
Seizo Fukumoto
Masato Harada
Shin Koyamada
Winchester Rep
William Atherton
General Hasegawa
Togo Igawa


Edward Zwick

Other Information

English, Japanese +subtitles
Theatrical distributor: 
Warner Bros
Available on video, DVD and BluRay
Released 9 Jan 2004
Certificate 15