Movie Clip Discussions

Last Samurai, The

Dynamic Image

2003, Rated R for strong violence and battle sequences

Main Point: This is a good clip when talking about commitment, dedication, discipline, or purposeful living.

Attention Grabber: Movie – The Last Samurai
An American military advisor embraces the Samurai culture he was hired to destroy after he is captured in battle.

Clip: “I have never seen such discipline.”
In this scene Tom Cruise’s character, Capt. Nathan Algren, is making observations in his journal about the Japanese Samurai village in which he is being held prisoner. He makes it very clear that he is impressed with their amazing sense of discipline. The scene takes place in chapter 15, titled “New Attire”, which starts at 0:52:50 and ends at 0:54:51.

Scene Introduction:
It’s been said, “Everyone wants the fire of God but no one wants to be disciplined.” Tonight we’re going to talk about not specific acts of discipline, but living a life of discipline, one lived “on purpose” (in a purposeful way). Let’s take a look at a clip from The Last Samurai. In this scene, Tom Cruise's character, Nathan Algren, is an American soldier who has been captured by Samurai in Japan. As their prisoner, he keeps a journal of his time spent with his captors. Listen to how he describes the people he is forced to live with.

Key Script:
Algren says, “From the moment they wake they devote themselves to the perfection of whatever they pursue. I have never seen such discipline. I am surprised to learn that the word ‘Samurai’ means ‘to serve’…”

Transitional Statment:
I think the greatest compliment that that village has ever received came from Tom Cruise's words in this scene. He just marvels over the discipline of the people there. Even when they don't know that they're being watched, they are dedicated to living their lives well. I wonder how our lives would look to outsiders. If we were being watched and observed, what would people say about us? Would they look at your life and marvel over the discipline you have? Would they see how much of a servant you? Right now we're going to break up into our discussion groups and really hash over some of these questions.

Divide into Small Groups:
Let’s go ahead and split up into our discussion groups, and then afterward we’ll come back together for a final word.

CLICK HERE for a quick training article on how to maximize your small groups using our small group format—a great resource to equip your small group leaders.

Discussion Questions:

  1. AROUND THE CIRCLE: Before we begin, let's go around the circle. Tell us your name and one thing that you're good at.

  2. ASK A FEW: In the movie clip, Nathan Algren admired the discipline and attitude of service that came from the people of the village. What would people say about us (our group) if they visited us?
  3. ASK A FEW: Would they see us as people of discipline? Why or why not?
  4. ASK A FEW: What would they say about our attitude of service? How so or why not?

    • Col. 3:22-24: Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

  5. ASK ONE OR TWO: According to these verses, who do we need to obey?
  6. ASK A FEW: Of course we're not slaves, but who would you say our earthly masters are?
  7. ASK ONE OR TWO: Why do we need to obey them, even when they aren’t looking?
  8. ASK ONE OR TWO: And what should our attitude be in working – whether serving in some way at church, doing school work, being an office aide at school, or working a job at the mall or fast-food?
  9. ASK A FEW: The above verses talk about discipline (working hard) and integrity (obeying, even when no one is looking). Think of someone you know who has both of these qualities. Describe them.
  10. ASK A FEW: Do you think anyone answering the last question would think of you? Why or why not?
  11. ASK A FEW: What does it cost to have discipline and integrity? In other words . . . is it hard? In what ways?
  12. AROUND THE CIRCLE: Some might ask, “What’s the pay-off then? Is it worth it?” What do you guys think?

Wrap-up: In the movie clip we saw a culture of discipline and honor. And the passage we just read expressed the importance of discipline, hard work, integrity . . . honor. Many of you shared that it’s worth it to strive for these traits in our life. But at what cost?

As we close, let’s go around the circle and share what “price” you are willing to pay for God’s influence in your life. Share the specific area you need His influence, and how you plan to be more disciplined this week.

Idea by Mark Janzen


Jonathan McKee

Jonathan McKee is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Guy's Guide to FOUR BATTLES Every Young Man Must Face; The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices; If I Had a Parenting Do Over; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers on Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.


  1. Rod
    January 31, 2011 at 12:00 am

    What a great movie, I have used this clip several times over the years.

  2. Daria Artz
    September 20, 2014 at 12:00 am

    I can not rate or review something prior to watching.

  3. Dave Kemp
    April 27, 2015 at 12:00 am

    Check out the follow YouTube for the clip

  4. Tim Allsep
    January 17, 2017 at 12:00 am

    A scene about a passion for perfection.

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