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(Review originally written at 14 September 2005)

Quite honestly, I didn't expected very much from this movie when I first saw it. Like so many others I expected a sort of "Braveheart" with Samurai swords. The movie however turned out to be so much more than just another 'epic' historical movie. The story is told with almost poetic beauty and lots of visual splendor.

This movie also made me realize what true honor is. I understood why it was regarded as a beautiful thing for the Samurai to die on the battlefield and that death is not something that you have to fear. I finally understand the real meaning of dying with honor now. This is thanks to the way the story is told. It takes it time slowly, to explain the way of the Samurai and in the end you really feel somehow related, fully understanding and emotional involved with them.

Visually this movie is also a beautiful one. With "The Thin Red Line" director of photography John Toll already showed that he can beautifully handle poetic movies and with this movie he shows that once again. You can tell that lots of talent was involved behind the camera's. The art direction, costume design, every thing adds to the beauty and perfection of the movie. The movie is directed by Edward Zwick, who with "Glory" already showed how well he can handle this genre. Just like "Glory" this movie has its over-the-top moments but also just like in "Glory" its done so beautifully that it not becomes a complaint.

Unlike many others at the moment, I'm really a fan of Tom Cruise. I mean this guy is basically the best action-movie star at the moment. He has got the right looks and on top of that he truly is one great actor, which he already has shown on several occasions. Also in this movie he is the perfect leading man. Another fine role is portrayed by Ken Watanabe, who even received an Oscar nomination for his role in this movie. A bit too much credit perhaps but it doesn't take away that he plays his role perfectly.

But the movie is not just only beauty, it also is quite action packed and features some nicely filmed battle sequences and a spectacular finale.

The musical score by Hans Zimmer and friends also adds to the beauty of the movie and is quite underrated in terms of how well known it is.

A splendid looking, almost poetic like movie with still plenty of spectacular moments to also entertain and captivated the more 'casual viewer'.

10/10

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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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