14. The Last Samurai (2003)

Hoping this is the last Hollywoodized Samurai movie

Directed by: Edward Zwick
Written by: Edward Zwick, John Logan,
Starring: Tom Cruise, Ken Watanabe

Hollywood has taken advantage of ancient cultures by excavating their mythical stories, riding all over culturally significant places, and having American heroes face dangers we find kinda exotic or different to what we’re used to (the Mummy franchise… anyone?). While most of these films get away with it, The Last Samurai doesn’t pull it off as Japanese history and culture is overly simplified in this Tom Cruise action-drama that stretches our imaginations a little too much.

Admitedly, the natural landscapes in the film are amazing, and like a beginner’s guide to old Japanese culture, the costumes and cultural activities are made to look curiously inviting and fascinating to the Western eye.

But aside from appearances, The Last Samurai takes a potentially good story about a cynical war veteran (Cruise) becoming imm

ersed in the very ancient warfare of the samurai he is supposed to help annihilate,  into something that is a tad corny and overexaggerated. To the very last drop of blood spilt, The Last Samurai shows no mercy in stretching the limits of credibility as the fight for honour and a return to old values deeply steeped in cultural and historical worth unfold in predictable and somewhat conveniently simplifed ways.

Soon to be BFFs


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