Movie Review: The Last Samurai


I watched The Last Samurai by my lonesome on DVD (because I am an only child, remember?) during a lull in the shop two days ago. It was definitely a good film to watch that tells on several conflicts requiring good decisions that mark a great leader.

Several issues embedded in the film included the conflict of keeping tradition versus the move to modernization. The emperor of Japan wanted to eliminate the Samurai group to incorporate western and more modern equipment for warfare. The Samurai has long been part of the ancient tradition of Japan and training the Japanese under the alien American military way is drastic.

The issue of loyalty also becomes transparent most especially to Capt. Nathan (Tom Cruise), the American tasked to mobilize the Japanese troupe with modern warfare in attempt to demolish the last Samurai group who are seen as a hindrance to the growth of Japan. Complications arise when Nathan was captured by the Samurai and kept him alive as a prisoner. Nathan's eyes were opened to the Samurai way, trained and grew to love his "enemy." Later on, he fought for and with the Samurai.

I chose to highlight the thought on the different levels of friendship that I think is laced in all of the issues. Japan, in its pursuit to open its country to globalization had to make agreements and open a friendly relation with the big America. Meanwhile, the Emperor of Japan while being a student of the great Samurai had to come down to a decision to rage war against them and embrace Western militarization. And more importantly, the most intimate relationship developed is that of Nathan with his captors.

Nathan saw both groups, one led by a heartless Japanese who pushed his men to war unprepared, and another group who draws strength from within. In the end, Nathan surpassed the culture barrier and found a family in the unfamiliar grounds of the Samurai where he felt he truly belonged.

There is friendship for convenience. There is friendship for a season, one that comes and goes. And there's lifetime friendship that breaks all barriers - time, race, culture and distance.

Five stars for The Last Samurai, and more!
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