The Last Samurai

Release Date: December 5, 2003

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Tom Cruise's latest project looks eerily similar in tone to a prior one, leading us to jokingly refer to this film as Far East and Away. The world's most bankable actor plays an American Civil War veteran who travels to Japan in the late 1870s. While there, he gains employment training the emperor's troops in the ways of modern warfare as the emperor is looking to break away from the traditional system of relying on samurai warriors. Cruise's character, Captain Woodrow Algren, is an outsider who winds up chronicling the events of this cultural revolution.

While in battle, Algren receives a serious wound, and is captured by the enemy. During his imprisonment, he is taught the code of honor which guides the culture of the enemy he is sworn to destroy. Once he is acclimated to the wisdom of this ancient eastern philosophy, he grows to deeply appreciate its beauty. When the invaders he has trained return to eradicate the remaining samurai, Cruise is forced to choose which side he is on. Should he continue to perform the task assigned to him or should he protect a dying culture full of dignity and respect? The Last Samurai promises to be a provocative study of the last days of the feudal state in Japan.

The December release date and historical epic scope scream Oscar bait. Director Ed Zwick has had success with such epics in the past such as Glory and Legends of the Fall, though he might be best known for his television work on series like thirtysomething and Once and Again. The mixture of action and the theme of respecting past traditions versus moving forward combined with Cruise's star power should result in a potent final product. (Dan Krovich and David Mumpower/BOP)

Vital statistics for The Last Samurai
Main Cast Tom Cruise, Ken Watanabe, Billy Connolly
Supporting Cast Tony Goldwyn, Timothy Spall, William Atherton, Seizo Fukomoto, Masato Harada, Togo Igawa, Sosuke Ikematsu, Shin Koyamada, John Koyama, Koyuki, Aoi Minato, Shichinosuke Nakamura, Hiroyuki Sanada, Shun Sugata, Scott Wilson
Director Edward Zwick
Screenwriter John Logan
Distributor Warner Bros.
Trailer Click Here for Trailer
Official Site
Rating R
Running Time 154 minutes
Screen Count 2,908
Awards Awards page for The Last Samurai
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture

Comparison films for The Last Samurai
Adjusted Opening
Total BO
Adjusted Total
Minority Report 6/21/0235.68 37.09 3001 11889.00 11889.0 132.01 137.25 3.70
Eyes Wide Shut 7/16/9921.71 25.87 2411 9005.00 10281.3 55.64 66.30 2.56
Legends of the Fall * 1/13/9514.04 19.46 2005 7002.00 9336.0 66.50 92.18 4.67
Far and Away 5/22/9212.95 18.81 1583 8181.00 11433.7 58.88 85.55 4.55



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