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The Last Samurai (2003)


Average Rating: 6.4/10
Reviews Counted: 216
Fresh: 141
Rotten: 75

Critics Consensus: With high production values and thrilling battle scenes, The Last Samurai is a satisfying epic.

Average Rating: 5.7/10
Reviews Counted: 44
Fresh: 23
Rotten: 21

Critics Consensus: With high production values and thrilling battle scenes, The Last Samurai is a satisfying epic.


Average Rating: 3.7/5
User Ratings: 389,500


Movie Info

Edward Zwick returned to the director's chair for the first time since 1998's The Siege with this sweeping period drama set in 19th-century Japan. After centuries of relying on hired samurai for national defense, the Japanese monarchy has decided to do away with the warriors in favor of a more contemporary military. Tom Cruise stars as Nathan Algren, a veteran of the U.S. Civil War who is hired by the Emperor Meiji to train an army capable of wiping out the samurai. But when Algren is captured … More

R (for strong violence and battle sequences)
Drama , Action & Adventure
Directed By:
Written By:
Marshall Herskovitz , Edward Zwick , John Logan
In Theaters:
May 4, 2004
Box Office:
Warner Bros. Pictures - Official Site


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Critic Reviews for The Last Samurai

All Critics (221) | Top Critics (45) | Fresh (141) | Rotten (75) | DVD (40)

It's easy to stand back and wax ironic about The Last Samurai. But it's not all that difficult to succumb to its full-spirited romanticism either.

Full Review… | August 25, 2008
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

Competently mounted in its studiedly immersive, elongated way, Zwick's earnest costume epic dresses a knee-jerk, reactionary sensibility in exotic garb.

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

The Last Samurai is an idyll in which the savageries of existence are transcended by spiritual devotion. That's a beautiful dream, and it gives the film a deep pleasingness, but the fullness of life and its blackest ambiguities are sacrificed.

Full Review… | August 7, 2004
New York Magazine/Vulture
Top Critic

Disappointingly content to recycle familiar attitudes about the nobility of ancient cultures, Western despoilment of them, liberal historical guilt, the unrestrainable greed of capitalists and the irreducible primacy of Hollywood movie stars.

Full Review… | December 23, 2003
Top Critic

There are pleasures to be had in the handsome, heroic The Last Samurai. But they're all on the surface.

December 16, 2003
Top Critic

The script lays on hokey narration and bombastic dialogue.

December 12, 2003
Rolling Stone
Top Critic

does honor traditional Japanese culture and ideals and make them accessible to a wider audience

Full Review… | May 14, 2012
Old School Reviews

Outstanding action and performance; lots of blood.

Full Review… | December 28, 2010
Common Sense Media

One of the best films of 2003.

Full Review… | April 29, 2009
Cinema Crazed

More than anything else, "The Last Samurai" is the current Tom Cruise vehicle, and the actor's capacity to wrestle the story to his own demands is an impressive testament to his multifaceted perfectionist skills.

Full Review… | April 18, 2009

The real point of the film seems to be the poster image of a battle-ready Tom Cruise waving a sword and all decked out in gleaming red-and-black samurai armor.

Full Review… | September 24, 2007

It's a film at war with itself. Worse, it's a mixed bag of carefully packaged entertainment, with little room for spontaneity or surprise.

Full Review… | August 5, 2007
Bangor Daily News (Maine)

Cruise is wasted on this American samurai tale. The movie is pretty to look at but lacks substance or intrigue.

Full Review… | August 8, 2006
Cinema Sight

As brisk as it is rich, The Last Samurai is much more fun than a mere history lesson.

Full Review… | April 1, 2006
Empire Magazine

Zwick has an ace up his sleeve, in addition to all the glorious scenery and pulse-pounding battles, and that's Ken Watanabe.

Full Review… | December 6, 2005
Film Threat

A harrowing tale of honor, simple beauty, self-discovery, and ferocious conviction.

Full Review… | December 6, 2005
Film Threat

It's Zwick who fails to take care of business here.

Full Review… | December 6, 2005
Film Threat

Edward Zwick's The Last Samurai isn't an awful movie, but it is a dull and plodding epic that's rife with the usual Hollywood cliches.

Full Review… | March 5, 2005
NYC Film Critic has to take into account is the sheer power of the show, the way The Last Samurai can sweep up the susceptible and the willing.

Full Review… | January 27, 2005
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

The standout performance is Ken Watanabe as the charismatic Samurai leader, reminiscent of Yul Brynner in looks and demeanor.

October 23, 2004
Kansas City Kansan

The story is good, the battle scenes realistic, and this is Cruise's best performance to date.

Full Review… | October 7, 2004

It is definitely a treat for the eyes and ears and well worth a trip to the cinema to see.

Full Review… | July 20, 2004

Think of it as Cruise's Dances With Swords.

Full Review… | June 23, 2004

Audience Reviews for The Last Samurai


Sweeping and emotional. This is truly a bold, near masterpiece that just gets better with each subsequent viewing. I don't know why it's so underrated or why many dismiss it, but Edward Zwick created one of the finest modern epics with "The Last Samurai."

Michael S

Super Reviewer

I really cannot understand how overlooked and underrated this film is. This is nothing less than an extraordinary masterpiece in its own ways; a fascinating and powerful epic about honor, loyalty, redemption and love, beautifully photographed, greatly acted and so wonderfully scripted.

Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

Almost 10 years passed between my first attempt at watching this movie and my second, and while I had rated it a 2.5 the first time around (after passing out, late at night, unwilling to invest in it), the problem wasn't the movie - it was me. I think I, like a lot of viewers, was ready to hate this film simply because Tom Cruise isn't Japanese; call it the "But I don't get it, how in the heck could HE be a Samurai!?" effect. What it is, though, is a historical epic about an American who gets a glimpse into a changing Japan. It's well shot, decently paced, and superbly choreographed - with the exception of one WWE-style body slam in the battle scene - and in the end, the only knock against it is that the premise seems rather flimsy. There's this thing called "the willing suspension of disbelief" that all art requires, though; it's not a documentary, nor was it meant to be, and if you're still hung up on factual accuracy, just watch it for Ken Watanabe's Oscar-nominated (Oscar-worthy!) supporting performance. It's basically just "Dances With Wolves: Japan," but some of us call this sort of movie "entertaining popular film." I think it's been horribly misjudged... I kind of loved it.

Daniel Perry

Super Reviewer

Its Hollywood romanticism of culture we killed at its best, with Cruise as the protagonist suddenly dubious as to which side is the right side (see:"Dances With Wolves"). Not a total waste of time, altho I wished (as I do in these films) for more time learning about the natives before they are shown up by the I'm-only-just-learning-this-stuff-but-I'm-already-better-than-you Anglo (see:"Avatar", see:"Tarzan") star.

Apeneck Fletcher

Super Reviewer

The Last Samurai Quotes

Nathan Algren:
What does it say?
I belong to the warrior in whom the old ways have joined the new.
– Submitted by Xuan D (19 months ago)
Life in every breath. That is the way of the warrior. That is Bushido!
Nathan Algren:
– Submitted by Xuan D (19 months ago)
When I took these, you were my enemy.
– Submitted by Xuan D (19 months ago)
You believe a man can change his destiny?
Nathan Algren:
l think a man does what he can until his destiny is revealed to him.
– Submitted by Nandu J (20 months ago)
Sooo kind and caring....beautiful..
– Submitted by Anikethan H (2 years ago)
You believe a man can change his destiny?
Nathan Algren:
I think a man does what he can, until his destiny is revealed.
– Submitted by Nusfish K (2 years ago)

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