videophile . DVDpendence


With Tom Cruise, Jo Jo Spangler, Billy Connolly, William Atherton
Directed by Edward Zwick

This sweeping big budget semi-epic deals with Nathan Algren, a washed-up alcoholic US Army hero who gets employed to train Japanese soldiers in the art of Western warfare during the 1870s. He is haunted by the atrocities perpetuated upon the Native Americans. A faction of custom-bound Samurai opposes the council who overpowers the decisions of the youthful emperor. In a skirmish with the sword-wielding traditionalists, the unprepared army is decimated and Algren is captured. With winter coming, they keep him in their village until he can be returned. Taken in by their leader's sister (whose husband was killed in the battle by his hands), he learns of their traditions and sense of honour. He learns their language, using a sword and obviously starts falling for the woman of the man he slain. On returning he is expected to lead the now well trained forces with modern weaponry to crush the resistant samurai. He turns sides however and fights against the westernized forces. Some busy fighting sequences and languid visual moments make this worth the watch, but did not stir me as much as the filmmakers would have liked me to (what with preemptive music and often obvious over-passionate acting turn from Cruise). Rather check out a real Akira Kurosawa samurai movie. (After this and
Kill Bill I'm sure the sales in samurai swords are soaring).

3 / C
- PB