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The Last Samurai News

The Stax Report: Special Year 2002 Retrospective
Stax cites the best and worst scripts he reviewed this year.

December 19, 2002 – Stax here with a year-end retrospective on the best and worst screenplays I’ve covered at IGN FilmForce during 2002. (Be sure to check out my 2000 and 2001 retrospectives, too.) I’m including quotes from my original reviews that explain why these scripts made my list. (I’m excluding Sherlock Holmes and the Vengeance of Dracula from consideration as that review originally appeared at my now defunct site Flixburg back in 2000.)
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3) The Last Samurai, by John Logan. Haunted Civil War hero Captain Woodrow Algren (Tom Cruise) is now a drunken pitchman for Winchester Repeating Arms when the Japanese government hires him to go to Japan and serve as an “advisor” to their military. Recently restored emperor Meiji wants to transform his military from a society of samurai warriors into a modern army. The samurai, however, will not go out gently. A large rebel faction, led by the charismatic poet-warrior Katsumoto, are branded traitors and ordered quashed. After Katsumoto captures him in battle, Algren spends the next few months recuperating in Katsumoto’s mountain village where he learns about Japanese culture and the ways of the samurai. Algren’s loyalties soon become torn between the noble samurai he’s grown to respect and the duplicitous fellows who hired him.

“The Last Samurai is a rousing adventure yarn, an intriguing commentary on a key turning point in the history of Japan and its relationship with the United States, as well as an enlightening lesson on Japanese culture and the titular samurai. … What I enjoyed most was the story’s (rather overt) parallels to contemporary issues as it recounts America’s first foray into Southeast Asian affairs. … The story’s ‘white man living amongst the natives’ plot made me want to rename this tale Dances with Samurai.”

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