1. Sign-up to become a member, and most of the ads you see will disappear. It only takes 30 seconds to sign up, so join the discussion today!
    Dismiss Notice

DVD Review HTF REVIEW: The Last Samurai (RECOMMENDED).

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Herb Kane, Apr 20, 2004.

Tags:
  1. Dome Vongvises

    Dome Vongvises Lead Actor

    Joined:
    May 13, 2001
    Messages:
    8,172
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Yeah, I wasn't too thrilled with the History Channel documentary, the one I thought would have more substance. But a good movie still.
     
  2. BillGo

    BillGo Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2004
    Messages:
    75
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I agree that the History Channel documentary was very poor. Also, I'm sure that everyone realizes the movie is pure fiction even though there many implications that the story was based upon some historical events.

    Since I was curious about those implications, I did a little research and found the following:

    "The Last Samurai" is a spectacular and entertaining movie with outstanding acting and breathtaking cinematography. Be aware however, that the movie is fictional and contains many historical inaccuracies, some of which are mentioned below.

    "The Last Samurai" is set in Japan of the 1870s, a few years after the Tokugawa shogunate had been overthrown and Japan's feudal age came to an end with the restoration of the emperor.

    Fact and Fiction: Despite Emperor Meiji being "restored to power", it was a clique of former samurai who held actual power and made the political decisions. The movie, however, shows Emperor Meiji, making spontaneous decisions on foreign politics.

    During the 1870s, the new Japanese government initiated far reaching reforms, westernizing many aspects of society, government and military, in order to protect Japan's independence by catching up with the West, and to get rid of the "unequal treaties" dictated by the West.

    Fact and Fiction: The movie does not mention the unequal treaties, while creating the wrong image of Japan and the US being equal trading partners.

    In order to implement the reforms, the Japanese government hired many foreign specialists and brought them to Japan. "The Last Samurai" is about one such specialist, the American war veteran Algren (Tom Cruise), whose job is the training of the country's new conscript army.

    Fact and Fiction: Japan modeled her army after the Prussian and French army and would hardly have hired an American advisor for this task.

    After arriving in Japan, Algren gets captured by a group of rebel samurai, led by Katsumoto (Ken Watanabe), who oppose the modernization of Japan and fight the central government. Living with the samurai, Algren soon learns to appreciate their code of honor and ends up fighting on their side.

    Fact and Fiction: Be warned that the movie unconditionally romanticizes and idealizes the rebel samurai as "good", while bluntly depicting the new government as "evil".

    While the story of an American war veteran joining a group of rebel samurai is fiction, the story of the samurai leader Katsumoto is a fictionalized version of the fate of Japan's real last samurai, Saigo Takamori.

    Saigo Takamori, born into a samurai family in Satsuma (today's Kagoshima Prefecture) first played a central role in overthrowing the shogunate, but then grew discontent with the new government, which he himself was initially part of, and ended up fighting it in the Satsuma Rebellion of 1877.

    But unlike Katsumoto's samurai, who fight with nothing but bows and arrows, spears and swords and look like they belong in a classic samurai movie, set in the 16th century, Saigo's army was equipped with relatively modern arms and seriously challenged the imperial army for several months.
     
  3. Dave Kalloch

    Dave Kalloch Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2002
    Messages:
    161
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I seem to be having a problem no one else has mentioned; no activity in the surround channels whatsoever. I'll check my setup, but it seems strange, as I haven't made any adjustments to my player, nor have I experienced any external issues, such as power failures, electrical storms, etc. Anyone else have this happen on their system?
     
  4. Dave Kalloch

    Dave Kalloch Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2002
    Messages:
    161
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Nevermind, I'm a jackass.:b
     
  5. DanR

    DanR Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 1998
    Messages:
    676
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Finally got around to watching the DVD last night. It's a great disc. I thought the picture was excellent. Watch the greens pop off the screen. I thought that there was also a good amount of fine detail from the costumes showing through. As far as the sound goes, it was enveloping, but not as powerful as some other recent "war" movies. Comparing, say, the cannon shots from The Last Samurai to Master & Commander shows just how awesome the soundtrack on M&C is. Still, TLS is no slouch in the sound dept, and I thought also that the score came through wonderfully.

    Regards,
    Dan
     
  6. BillGo

    BillGo Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2004
    Messages:
    75
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    DanR; If you liked the music score from The Last Samurai, be sure you play all the credits at the end of the film. They seem to last almost as long as the movie itself; and of course the music accompanies the credits.

    Also, you're right about the sound. As good as it is, it can't compare to Master and Commander for realism.
     
  7. David_Blackwell

    David_Blackwell Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2004
    Messages:
    1,435
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I watched the movie over the weekend. It could have been tightened a little bit editing-wise. I liked the movie. I do wish the History channel docu was longer and also had included a Japaness Historian who was Japanese, and other History Vs. Hollywood shows (like the one on Braveheart) were more satisfying than this one. Yep, the ending was cliched and I wonder why they didn't stick with the original scripted ending. There seems to be plenty of extras on disc two.

    Be Seeing you,
    Dvid Blackwell
     
  8. Chris Atkins

    Chris Atkins Producer

    Joined:
    May 9, 2002
    Messages:
    3,887
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Loved this one even more the second time on DVD. Just a great movie.

    My defense of the ending:

    The ending is appropriate given the dichotomy between Eastern and Western culture. Eastern culture is portrayed as valuing honor above all, thus the death of Katzumoto at the end by his own sword. Western culture is portratyed as loving power and conquest above all (self-focus) as seen is Algren's drinking and defeatism before he become a samurai. By the end of the film Algren has synthesized the two cultures into something even better: he lives because he wants to experience life to the fullest by living out the code of the samurai. Thus, the ending is appropriate, imho.
     
  9. Ricardo C

    Ricardo C Producer

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2002
    Messages:
    5,059
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Real Name:
    Ricardo C
    Agreed [​IMG]

    People who complain about Algren never fully becoming a Samurai, based on his not committing seppuku, or by not accepting defeat gracefully when Ujio fights him for the first time, are missing the point, I think. The entire movie is about these two warriors from opposite ends of the world coming to understand and respect the other's culture, while still holding strong to their own:

    Just as Algren finally understands the Samurai concept of honor and helps Katsumoto end his life by his own hand, so too do Katsumoto and the other Samurai start to see the honor in the Western concept of never giving up (such as when Katsumoto acknowledges Algren's position by saying "You have your honor again" as they lay wounded on the battlefield. Or when Ujio grudgingly starts to respect Algren as he insists on learning to wield a katana).

    It's not about one culture being proven superior to the other. It's about them acknowledging the honor and beauty that are in both of them, and merging into something even better when Algren embraces the Samurai code in his own way.

    Then again, one could also argue that he does indeed finally become a true Samurai when he tells the Emperor that he will gladly commit suicide if the Emperor considers him an enemy.
     
  10. chris_clem

    chris_clem Second Unit

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2003
    Messages:
    345
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I love this film and the DVD is just packed with great stuff. However I have two major gripes with regards to the extras:

    1) They are not anamorphic! Why have studios adopted anamorphic widescreen for a vast majority of their films and virtually all their menus but still fail to do so for the extras?!? [​IMG] I don't understand why it can't be a standard format for extras as well as the movie...

    2) The featurettes are great and do shed some light on some great aspects of the film but they failed to make one on the musical score! I absolutely love the music in this movie and thought for sure that there would be an extra on the dvd devoted to it but alas there was none. I'm still happy with the overall package but props really should have been given for the memorable soundtrack.

    Great film though, count me in as one of those people who thought this should have been recognized more that it was [​IMG]
     

Share This Page