Movie review: The Last Samurai
The movie starts with the character of Captain Nathan Algren. Captain Algren was a ex-United States Army captain who is haunted by the memory of his past killing duties against Native American civilians, learns that the Japanese are eager to modernize their country along Western lines, and have recruited experts in various fields from many different Western countries to accomplish these goals. Captain Algren is recruited by Mr. Omura, a Japanese tycoon and railroad magnate, to help the new Meiji Restoration government train its first Western-style army.
Upon his arrival, he begins training the army, consisting mostly of farmers who have never used firearms, to combat a fierce samurai rebellion led by one Katsumoto, who believes that Japan is modernizing far too quickly. After only a few brief weeks, Algren is ordered to take the army into battle against the samurai rebels, despite his insistence that the men are not ready.
Algren leads the army in the battle against the rebellion, and as he expected, the attack takes the lives of many of the inexperienced soldiers. Although he exhausts himself in fighting, he manages to kill many samurai, including the one with red armor. He is spared execution by Katsumoto, and is then taken as a prisoner to an isolated village, controlled by Katsumoto's only son, where he gradually recovers from his wounds and begins to mingle with the locals.
Algren comes to discuss many things with Katsumoto, who enjoys "a good conversation," and it is through him that Algren is given a glimpse through the eyes of his enemy. While he has several times irritated Katsumoto's sister, Taka, the widowed wife of the samurai in red armor that he killed, Algren comes to be attracted to her, while her two young sons grow ever more fond of him. Algren learns swordplay from a warrior.
While it is Katsumoto's intention to take whatever information he can from Algren, and then to free him once winter comes around,...