Movie Essay (EVALUATION) The Last Samurai

Essay by pete7068College, Undergraduate December 2004

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The Last Samurai

When director Edward Zwick called, "Action!," on the set of The Last Samurai, he wasn't kidding! Though the human aspect lifts the epic film far above the standard action flick, this massive production is filled with impressive battle scenes and sword fights. As American military man, Captain Nathan Algren, Tom Cruise trained intensively for eight months in hand-to-hand combat, karate and Samurai style, two-handed sword fighting. He worked with sword master/choreographer Nick Powell, who also trained Russell Crowe for Gladiator, Mel Gibson in Braveheart and the cast of The Mummy. Cruise told, training with swords helped him bulk up. They weigh about three pounds. I started waving them around for a few weeks and put on a good inch-and-a-half of muscle on my forearms and shoulders. I didn't fit in my suits anymore. Captain Algren arrives in Japan in 1876, to train Western-minded young Emperor Meiji's imperial army in modern warfare.

His goal, is to wipe out the remaining Samurai warriors. All that changes, when Algren is severely wounded in battle and taken captive by Samurai warrior Katsumoto (Ken Watanabe), and trained in their ways of fighting and thinking. Algren soon begins to understand and respect his captors. Hundreds of Japanese martial arts experts were flown to the north island of New Zealand, where the movie was shot, to play Katsumoto's Samurai army in the major fight scenes. They became part of one of the fiercest battles in movie history. Director Zwick calls the attack in his movie Glory, simple, compared to what they did in The Last Samurai. Known for his energy and focus, Cruise spent a total of 31 days shooting the film's exhausting battle scenes alone. Though it's an action-packed film, Cruise says he knew he had to make this picture. (The...