Box art for The Last Samurai

The Last Samurai

action & adventure, drama

Set in Japan during the 1870s, THE LAST SAMURAI tells the story of Capt. Nathan Algren (TOM CRUISE), a respected American military officer hired by the Emperor of Japan to train the country's first army in the art of modern warfare.

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

  • Critic Score
  • Audience Score

common sense

PAUSE for kids age 15
0 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
3 out of 5
3 out of 5
3 out of 5
5 out of 5

Outstanding action and performance; lots of blood.

what parents need to know

Parents need to know that this movie has extreme and graphic violence with many grisy wounds and a lot of blood. Many characters are killed, including some we have come to care about. Parents should especially be aware of the way that this movie portrays the traditional samurai notion of suicide as an honorable choice in the event of a defeat. The movie also includes some strong language, alcohol abuse, smoking, and sexual references. One of the movie's strengths is its respect for the Japanese culture and its portrayal of strong and respectful relationships between people of different races and cultures.

what families can talk about

  • Families can talk about what it means to say that "A man does what he can until his destiny is revealed."

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

  • Tomatometer®

    reviews counted: 21
    see all The Last Samurai reviews
  • Audience


Top Critic Reviews

Rotten: Too much surface and not enough depth.

- Connie Ogle, Miami Herald, Friday, December 5, 2003

Rotten: There are pleasures to be had in the handsome, heroic The Last Samurai. But they're all on the surface.

- David Ansen, Newsweek, Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Rotten: Despite its intelligent agenda, swollen heart and fabulously epic surface, amounts to a didactic banality: a white guy's politically correct lesson abroad.

- Desson Thomson, Washington Post, Friday, December 5, 2003

Audience Reviews

4 stars

The Last Samurai is a terrific action war drama directed by Edward Zwick and starring Tom Cruise and Ken Wantanabe. Set in Japan in the 19th century, The Last Samurai takes a look at a modernizing Japan who seek the help of an American officer (played by Tom Cruise) to train their modernizing army and eradicate the ancient Samurai who refuse a modernized Japan. After living a life of shame survive under Custard, Nathan Algren (Cruise) who is an alcoholic gets hired to train the Japanese army to eradicate the Samurai. He gets captured after an ill prepared attack, as the newly formed army is not battle ready and not disciplined enough for combat. As they are ordered to suppress the Samurai revolt. Algren gets captured and becomes the Samurai's prisoner. Through his captivity, Algren slowly regains his honor and learns the way of the Samurai. He becomes impressed with their way of life, the way they live, fight and how selfless they are. At first, The Samurai are wary of him, but it's not long that they gain full confidence in him. Soon the eras will collide and Algren will choose a side, and be forced to fight for what he truly has come to love. The Last Samurai is a well crafted film, and Tom Cruise gives a great performance, in fact one of his best since Rainman (at the time of this films release) Ken Wantanabe is phenomenal as the Samurai Katsumoto, his performance is the best of the film. Edward Zwick has made yet another terrific film, and The Last Samurai proves yet again that he's is a seriously underrated director. The Last Samurai is unique and is a film that you won't forget long after you've seen it. The film is simply beautiful.

- TheDudeLebowski65, Tuesday, January 18, 2011

4 stars

Almost 10 years passed between my first attempt at watching this movie and my second, and while I had rated it a 2.5 the first time around (after passing out, late at night, unwilling to invest in it), the problem wasn't the movie - it was me. I think I, like a lot of viewers, was ready to hate this film simply because Tom Cruise isn't Japanese; call it the "But I don't get it, how in the heck could HE be a Samurai!?" effect. What it is, though, is a historical epic about an American who gets a glimpse into a changing Japan. It's well shot, decently paced, and superbly choreographed - with the exception of one WWE-style body slam in the battle scene - and in the end, the only knock against it is that the premise seems rather flimsy. There's this thing called "the willing suspension of disbelief" that all art requires, though; it's not a documentary, nor was it meant to be, and if you're still hung up on factual accuracy, just watch it for Ken Watanabe's Oscar-nominated (Oscar-worthy!) supporting performance. It's basically just "Dances With Wolves: Japan," but some of us call this sort of movie "entertaining popular film." I think it's been horribly misjudged... I kind of loved it.

- danperry17, Tuesday, May 7, 2013

3 stars

Its Hollywood romanticism of culture we killed at its best, with Cruise as the protagonist suddenly dubious as to which side is the right side (see:"Dances With Wolves"). Not a total waste of time, altho I wished (as I do in these films) for more time learning about the natives before they are shown up by the I'm-only-just-learning-this-stuff-but-I'm-already-better-than-you Anglo (see:"Avatar", see:"Tarzan") star.

- ApeneckFletcher, Tuesday, April 23, 2013