Some time ago, I watched The Last Samurai. Quite a nice picture, with Tom Cruise playing the white guy (to whom the domestic american public can identify) who becomes a Samurai (common kid fantasy) and on the way goes places and meets people few japanese (and no gaijin) have ever had the opportunity to. Ever since Mark Twain's Connecticut Yankee entered King Arthur's Court, there has been no limit to what your average american may dare fancy becoming. Of course, it is usually ignorance and lack of ambition, not knowledge and wisdom, that prevents non-americans from daring as much. Oh well.
The plot is so predictable that if you've seen the trailer, filling in the rest of the script with the prototypical elements and constraints of the genre is an academic exercise: please make it a politically correct blockbuster, in a japanese medieval setting, with historical pseudo-accuracy, flavors of war and exotism, and a touch of leftist pseudo-philosophy. After you've seen the movie or completed the above exercise, you may read the following comments without fear of spoilers.
My view of the plot is as follows: a man who knows nothing but to kill joins a bunch of Luddites who go on killing sprees against trainfarers, predating Al-Qaida by over one century, but achieving more victims without the automation. The group lingers mainly because of sheer incompetence from the management of law and order enforcement forces; this incompetence persists defeat after defeat: some people never learn, and some prefer to commit suicide before they may.
Did politically correct really exist in these days? The hero has more remorse for participating involuntarily in the killing of a hundred of savages than for participating voluntarily in the killing and enslavement of millions of civilized people.
The young man who could easily put a stop to all this useless waste of thousands of lives fails to do so because he is even less able to communicate than to think. Once again, persuasion through logical arguments and peaceful negociation are not the way of the ruthless feudal lords, but that of the engineering tradesman. Finally, warriors meet their gruesome fate. Good riddance. Sadly, they take numerous innocent lives with them.
In the end, a protectionist is defeated, which is good;
but somehow it is sad that as usual industrialists
be represented by a political lobbyist living off state corporatism
rather than by entrepreneurs making a honest living on the free-market.
Actually, the political lobbyists does not represent capitalism,
but indeed continues the Samurai spirit of racketeering productive workers,
except that these new racketeers need not be luddites.
The Samurai spirit also lives on with the Yakusa:
racketting small producers and
from the racketeers' own destructions,
and from the racketee's personal choice.
So the oppressors of the past may be vanquished,
and still the oppression lives on.
All in all, a movie with beautiful pictures and a few correct combat scenes. Legolas has an asian rival. In other news, Tom Cruise finds opponents his size at long last.