Embittered ex-Army Captain Nathan Algren (Cruise) is hired to train Japanese soldiers in modern warfare in order to quell a rebellion led by samurai Katsumoto (Watanabe). The inexperienced soldiers are forced to go into battle too early and, despite the superior firepower of their American rifles, are quickly defeated. Algren is taken prisoner and brought to a remote mountain village, where he learns the Japanese, swordplay, and the samurai's ancient code of honor(all in one winter). While Cruise is certainly the big name of the film, Watanabe is the one to watch as the magnetic and charismatic samurai leader. A bit over-romanticized, but the intricate battle sequences and spectacular cinematography make up for it.