Wednesday, January 14, 2004

last Samurai: not Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise's lastest movie is based on Saigo Takamori. Takamori (his character is played by the superb Ken Watanabe in the movie) is the epitome of bushido and loyalty to the Japanese. He's probably second only to the "47 Ronin". He played an important part in the overthrow of the Tokugawa shogunate and the Meiji restoration. However, when the Japanese government moved to strip the samurai of their right to wear swords and abolished the samurai class altogether, he was forced by his followers to lead the rebellion against the Meiji government. The reluctant rebel died in battle together with most of his Satsuma clan disciples, ironically, against the modern conscript Japanese army that he helped to create. Katanas against rifles.

Cruise's character is fictional; there were no America military advisers in Japan at that time (1870s) and almost certainly none on the side of the Satsuma rebels. The Japanese army and their education system was based on the Prussian (German) model while their navy was based on the British.

saw the trailer in cinema. my first reaction was: not another "Shogun" (a TV miniseries based on James Clavell's book, starring Richard Chamberlain), not another "gaijin civilising the natives" movie. many critics panned Cruise's acting (or lack thereof). positive factors: the backdrop is stunning! filmed in NZ! land of Lord of the Rings. that explained the greener than green, lush landscape and tree terns in the background. if u look hard enuff, some locations reminded me of Xena or Hercules locations :-). Even the critics and reviewers lauded the performance of the Japanese actors. still thinking whether I should risk my $8.50...


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