Chris Ehrlich of Burbank is a newswire editor.
Tom Cruise’s latest blockbuster, “The Last Samurai,” combines epic
battle scenes, history and just enough romance and humor to present a
story of samurai warriors in late-19th century Japan that’s both
exciting and graceful.
A bearded Cruise sparingly calls on his signature smile during the
film. Nevertheless, he shines as Capt. Nathan Algren, a
whiskey-drink- ing veteran of the U.S. Army, who leads a life without
Algren accepts a job to train the Japanese emperor’s army of
peasants how to use Civil War-era weaponry to suppress rebel samurai
warriors fighting to keep Japan from entering the Industrial Age and
rendering the samurai obsolete. After being captured by the warriors
during battle, Algren becomes an armor-wearing samurai by the movie’s
Each of the film’s intense battle scenes feature stretches of
hand-to-hand combat that will activate your internal fight-or-flight
switch and make your heart pound uncontrollably. The dramatic tension
that drives the battles primarily stems from the warriors’ use of
old-world swords and arrows to fight an army of rifles and cannons.
Above all, the film uses a strong supporting cast of Japanese
actors to gracefully personify the abstract and often cliched
meanings of honor, destiny and loyalty.
* “The Last Samurai” is rated R for strong violence and battle