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Look out for more coverage of
The Last Samurai in our magazines

THE MOVIE: The Last Samurai

Tom Cruise • Tony Goldwyn • Ken Watanabe
• Hiroyuki Sanada
DIRECTOR: Edward Zwick

In this intelligent action movie, Captain Nathan Algren (Cruise), a disillusioned soldier from the American Indian Wars, is recruited to train Japan’s first modern army.

U.S. RELEASE: December 5 2003, Nationwide
• Rated: R


“I take great pride in what I do, and I can’t do something halfway. I didn’t know if I could do [the martial arts], if I could find that kind of physical elegance and movement that the Samurai have. It was a year preparing.”

“When I first met Tom he’d already learned Japanese fighting for eight months, but sometimes it looked western, so I gave him some pointers on his falls and his movements, so they were more authentically Japanese. He was a good learner and a hard worker.”

KEN WATANABE (Katsumoto):
“The first time I saw Tom was on September 12th last year, and I was a little nervous because he is a huge Hollywood star and it was a big movie. But he was very casual, he wore jeans, a t-shirt and a Yankee (baseball) cap. I didn’t recognize it was Tom Cruise for ten seconds, and then I said, ‘Oh, I’m sorry!’ But I was so comfortable in the work, he was always open-minded.”

CRUISE on the fight sequences:
“It’s a miracle [I wasn’t hurt]. The guys that I worked with were excellent. I’m more concerned about not hurting someone else, because when you’re moving those swords, even though at times they weren’t razor sharp, they would still cut your finger off at the speeds we were traveling.”

EDWARD ZWICK on why he repeated the martial arts street fight in slow-motion in the movie:
“I think that the process by which one learns martial arts is often about visualization, and it occurred to me that after the fact, that one would go back and try to reanalyze what had happened. And I also thought it would be an opportunity to show the level of artistry and skill that Algren had attained as a martial artist. To me Tom’s devotion to it, his discipline as an actor doing that, also mirrored the character’s commitment to it in the film.”

TONY GOLDWYN (Col. Bagley):
“Tom is an incredibly impressive individual. He’s extremely humble and extremely generous. He’s passionately dedicated to making something as good as it can possibly be, and he’s very respectful and admiring of all the other actors. He’s a great team leader.”

“In the Japanese theatre I did musicals, and I did Little Shop of Horrors. Tom also loves that musical, so we sang together, ‘Suddenly Ujio, standing beside me!’ He’s a good singer.”

“The sets in the movie were amazing. There’s a winter scene where Algren and I walk around in the snow, there’s no dialogue, and it’s very short, and they made this big set. As I arrived on the set, Ed said, ‘Welcome to Hollywood!’”

“I really wanted to be involved with this, and it far exceeded my expectations of what I thought it could be. It’s definitely the best movie I’ve ever been involved with.”

“Ultimately the film is about a man who wanted to die and at the end, when he’s faced with death, he’s able to live through another culture.”

There will be a series of sneak previews of The Last Samurai this Saturday, November 29th, across America – check your local newspapers for further information.

Written by Judy Sloane. Back to top

Visit the official The Last Samurai site
Images above © Warner Brothers
Feature © 2003 Visual Imagination.
Not for reproduction.

Film Review, #638, December 2003 cover

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