Last Samurai Special Edition, The
At the end of the 19th century, the Japanese empire is looking to broaden its horizons and make trade agreements with the modern Western world. However, not everyone in Japan is happy with this new wind that goes through the country and the Samurai decide to do an uprising against the powers that influence the young emperor into these agreements.
Nathan Algren (Tom Cruise) is an army captain who fought in the civil war and against the indians but now has deteriorated to less than a shadow of his former self due to the cruelties he’s seen in combat which have made him an emotional wreck and an alcoholic. He gets hired by the Japanese to train their army in the art of modern warfare so that they can stand up against the force of the samurai who are lead by Katsumoto (Ken Watanabe). After a first confrontation, Algren gets captured by the samurai and during the winter he has to stay in a small village in the mountains from where there’s no escape. During his stay, he gets interested in their philosophy and way of living but when he gets released, he has to make up his mind: go back to train the Japanese army further or stand by the people who he has come to trust and respect?
Sound and Vision:
Despite the occasional compression error and a slight usage of edge enhancement, the image quality is top notch. Contrast and amount of detail are good, there’s a solid level of black and the colors are bright and natural.
The soundtrack is very dynamic and uses all channels as it should. Dialogues are crystal clear but the subwoofer could use some extra spunk. All in all a very good soundtrack.
DirectorEdward Zwick starts off the extras with an audio commentary track. Tom Cruise: A Warrior’s Journey: A combination between a “Making Of” and a Tom Cruise asskissing feature. Edward Zwick: Director’s Video Journal: a video diary of the production with additional comments by the director. Making An Epic: A Conversation With Edward Zwick and Tom Cruise: Zwick and Cruise talk about the memories they have from making The Last Samurai and accompanied we get some behind-the-scenes footage. History Vs. Hollywood: The Last Samurai: Historics compare the movie with the real facts of history and both Zwick and Cruise also get to have their say. A World Of Detail: Production Design with Lilly Kilvert: a feature on the sets and locations of the movie through which we get guided by production designer Lilly Kilvert. Silk And Armor: Costume Design with Ngila Dickson : a short feature on the costumes. Imperial Army: Basic Training: another short featurette on the training that was necessary for the cast. From Soldier To Samurai: The Weapons of The Last Samurai: short featurette on the weapons used in the movie. Japan Premieres: short footage on the movie premiere in Tokyo. Furthermore we get 8 pages of additional info on the values of the samurai and a section that contains 2 deleted scenes. Of course a teaser trailer couldn’t be left out.
The Last Samurai is the latest attempt from Tom Cruise to get an oscar and in fact the movie is quite decent if you don’t mind the obligatory “hero” scenes. After all, it’s still an American movie. The extras are a nice addition on the dvd and since technically everything is ok as well, we can only advise you to check it out. You won’t be disappointed