Freeview film of the day: The Last Samurai

Tom Cruise is an American mercenary hired by a Japanese emperor to turn the tide of a samurai rebellion. East meets West, but which is best?

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The Last Samurai ★★★★ 
9.00pm-12 midnight Dave

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East is East and West is West and here the twain meet in the developing relationship between an American mercenary (Tom Cruise) and a samurai warrior (Ken Watanabe). Cruise is a world-weary American Civil War veteran hired to train an army for the Japanese emperor, who faces a samurai rebellion and also wants to modernise his country. Watanabe is the samurai leader, a complex man who resists change but would still be prepared to die for what the empire represents. There are plenty of good battle scenes, including one where Cruise is captured and held prisoner. And it’s from here on that Edward Zwick’s film rises above the level of your average action epic, as Cruise and Watanabe get to know, understand and respect each other. This is both an exciting and an intelligent movie, which, unusually, doesn’t assume that western values are superior to ancient eastern traditions. Watanabe is excellent and so is Cruise, who gives an admirably unselfish performance.


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