Saturday, May 08, 2004
There are two things to say about The Last Samurai. First, it is essentially a mark-up of Braveheart and The Patriot. As such, Mel Gibson would have been better for the lead than Tom Cruise. Gibson has simply mastered the reluctant-yet-crazed-warrior-with-nothing-to-lose bit.
Second, Tom Cruise's character suffers from flashbacks from his days as a ruthless killer in the Indian Wars, almost as if he were remembering having burned huts and murdered innocents in the Mekong delta. He was, apparently, the only Vietnam veteran alive in 1876.
He also helps with the housework, which apparently Japanese men "do not do." We are forced to wonder whether American cavalry officers circa 1876 picked up any more of the chores than the samurai. I somehow doubt it. Otherwise, we wouldn't have needed a women's movement.
You can also look at Samurai as a "going native" flick in the spirit of Dances With Wolves. If that's your alternative for the evening, you'd rather watch Samurai. It has ninjas. When faced with two similar movies, one with ninjas and one without, go for the flick with ninjas. That's what I always say.