What a piece of shit The Last Samurai is. Cruise doesn't even begin to convince as a broken-down Civil War soldier haunted by his memories of Indian massacres (at most he looks like he has a serious migraine). He goes to Japan and essentially goes through the same "callow man attains wisdom and maturity" journey he's been doing his entire career, from Risky Business thru Jerry Maguire to here. The Japanese are pictured with such nobility they're embarrassing--even Kurosawa never made them look this good. Koyuki as Taka, the wife of the samurai Cruise kills (almost by accident) is either a lousy actress or badly directed because she insults the memory of her husband by looking like she's halfway in love with Cruise the moment he's carried into her house (no sex, but there's a scene where she dresses Cruise in her husband's suit of armor that's almost as good; the man must be spinning in his grave).
Ken Watanabe acts circles around Cruise with his doe eyes which either glitter like hard diamonds or with a deft mood flip turn meltingly soft and soulful. Tony Goldwyn as usual is effectively despicable (and totally wasted) as the merceneary Col. Bagley. The movie's an insult to the Japanese culture it grossly misrepresents, to the many Japanese films it copies from (badly), and to the Meiji government, which may have been hard on samurai but was a boon to the ordinary Japanese (there's a reason why they outlawed swords on the streets--it was to help stop the practice of cutting down innocent bystanders who happen to look at samurai the wrong way). Call it "Jerry Maguire Dances with Wolves in Japan."