日曜日, 11月 09, 2003

The Last Samurai

Just attended an advance screening of The Last Samurai, starring Tom Cruise; it was free because the director was an alumni.

Let me begin with a perhaps outrageous prediction: You will like this movie better than Return of the King. Not because The Last Samurai is a perfect movie--Tom Cruise in samurai armor looks ridiculous, no matter how good he looks with a beard. And the dialogue is not bad, just utterly predictable. Though the director makes some brave decisions, it all seems so inevitable in retrospect.

BUT: This is a very Japanese movie, just like how Hero was a very Chinese movie. You see how Cruise's character (and the director himself) are seduced by this exotic vision of Japanese honor. The way the Westerners fawn over bushido is quite irritating. Yet--this IS Japan's national myth. As such, it's not as good as the Rurouni Kenshin (not to say the RK OVA), but this will be the closest to it we'll ever see in a Western film.

Aside from some parts of the dialogue (and Samurai Tom), it is a fine film. The cinematography is beautiful--more importantly, the katanas in this movie are ABSO-F#$%ING-LUTELY gorgeous. If your heart swells at the click of the blade as it leaves the scabbard, at the sight of galloping horsemen, at the music of Buddhist gongs, then this is your movie.

Though I found the worship of 武士道 a bit heavy-handed, it was a refreshing change from the sophomoric American obsession with sex and teenage woes. I'm also glad to see the Japanese characters as the true emotional centers of the story. Tom Cruise is the outsider through whom we're introduced to the story, but it's Katsumoto, Nakao, Taka, and Ujio who carry it. They are the true stars.

And that makes all the difference. Return of the King will undoubtedly be a memorable movie, but it's still about Hobbits and Elves and Kings of Men. The Last Samurai takes us back to a place we've only known through anime and gives it flesh and blood--lots of blood.

1 Comments:

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2:21 午前  

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