IN THE FACE OF AN ENEMY, IN THE HEART OF ONE MAN, LIES THE SOUL OF A WARRIOR.
… or is it Dances With Samurai? There are a few similarities here to Kevin Costner’s 1990 Western epic. Director Edward Zwick takes on the aftermath of the Civil War (after Glory (1989)) as he paints a portrait of a man (Tom Cruise) who in 1876 comes to Japan to train the Emperor’s army and is captured by the samurai he was hired to destroy. Still, he finds that it is among the samurai that he finds genuine humility and honor. Cruise gives a strong performance and Ken Watanabe is also impressive as the heroic leader of the last samurai. An exciting, beautifully shot and moving film, and that goes a long way. But there are too many scenes where solemn, tearful men salute other solemn, tearful men.
2003-U.S. 154 min. Color. Widescreen. Produced by Tom Cruise, Paula Wagner, Edward Zwick, Marshall Herskovitz, Tom Engelmann, Scott Kroopf. Directed by Edward Zwick. Screenplay: John Logan, Edward Zwick, Marshall Herskovitz. Cinematography: John Toll. Music: Hans Zimmer. Cast: Tom Cruise (Nathan Algren), Ken Watanabe (Katsumoto), Tony Goldwyn (Colonel Bagley), Timothy Spall, Billy Connolly, Hiroyuki Sanada.
Last word: “When I was in college, it was not at all unusual to see not one, not two, but three of four Akira Kurosawa movies in a single festival. I didn’t at the time have any idea I would even become a film director, but when I began to read more, I came upon a story that described a samurai rebellion in which many of those who helped train the new Imperial army had come from the west. The French taught them the Navy, the British taught them explosives. The more I read about it I realized here was a possibility of talking about a convulsive, climactic moment in both cultures. And I thought that the idea of examining the collision of two different notions of what a warrior is would be an interesting movie.” (Zwick, Latino Weekly Review)