THE  LAST  SAMURAI    -  A  Narada Film Review

  KOYUKI   
     
   TOM CRUISE         
     
   KEN WATANABI
The Last Samurai - 2003   - Edward Zwick-Director   &   Scott Kroopf - Producer
    THE LAST SAMURAI we speak of here is not the remake of it's 1995 namesake, where a Japanese adventurer goes to Africa in search of a Samurai ancestor, although as it ultimately works out, many would have preferred that it were.  The new film we speak of is cast in the "epic" mold, and the moment in history it portrays, and the grand battle scenes, and awesome cinematography would lead us to believe we were, in fact, watching an epic.  It, however, doesn't take anywhere near the full 148 minutes to dispel that pollyannaish fiction.
         Coming late to Bangkok, a lot of 'news' preceeded THE LAST SAMURAI's arrival here.  Of ominous portent, one bit of news reaching these shores was that it was very popular in Japan...because it was so "politically correct".  The report was too kind - THE LAST SAMURAI has redefined the phrase.  Ultimately, a director has to make a choice: - either make an "epic", which is accountable to no man in its relentless, sweeping consequences, or make a "nice" film which is accountable to every man and his New Millennium sensibilities.  Director Edward Zwick attempts both, and, of course, accomplishes neither.
         We are told a familiar story, where the uncouth (American Lt Algren) from the West is captured by his enemies (the Samurai) and introduced into the ways of the East (Bushido), and comes to see how much better, noble, beautiful and 'true' that way of life is as compared to, say, slaughtering American Indian women and children.  Some directors know that a little of this epiphanic moral-emotional soul-searching can go a very long way.  Other directors know that slathering it on like peanut butter onto hot toast for an hour and a half is enough to raise the hackles of an overwhelming percentage of the movie-going public.  But some directors, Mr Zwick, just don't get it.
         Ken Watanabe as Katsumoto, in THE LAST SAMURAI, is certainly deserving of his Oscar nomination for best supporting actor, however, this critic has already given the nod to the tormented Benicio Del Toro in 21 Grams, and I'm going to stick by my (Gatling) guns....
      Enduring Line or Phrase:  "I would rather have a good conversation."

Copyright 2004,    Bangkok Eyes / bangkokeyes.com
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