Ujio

'The Last Samurai'.

Ujio (Hiroyuki Sanada) is a Sword-master, and Katsumoto's (Ken Watanabe) right hand man; always at hand to protect his Samurai Lord. Ujio is a fierce Samurai warrior who believes strongly in the way of the Samurai, and lives by the code of Bushido; he is determined to do whatever it takes to help Katsumoto to protect their way of life, for the good of the people and the Emperor himself. 

The above photo is from a scene that was eventually deleted from the movie. As Ujio walks down the street, he is challenged and insulted by a couple of men. In true Samurai fashion, he beheads the offensive man... no more problem!

This part has brought Hiroyuki Sanada to the attention of a wider international audience, and has gained him a legion of new fans. 

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Appearing out of the mists on his war horse, Ujio leads the men into battle, and is a frightening sight for any enemy to have to face, never mind a troop of untrained Imperial guards. 

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Ujio the Sword master, prepares the blade of Katsumoto's Samurai sword in a traditional ritual.
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As Captain Algren is led away following the Imperial Army's overwhelming defeat by the Samurai, Katsumoto assists Samurai General Hasagawa to commit Hara Kiri, because though he refused to fight against his former comrade, Hasagawa was still in the Imperial Army, and so their defeat was his. So at the Samurai he still is, he chooses hara kiri.

 

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With Algren as their captive, the proud Samurai are led by their leader, Katsumoto, to his son Nobutada's village high in the hills, where they will spend the winter months until the melting of the snows in the Springtime, making the valleys clear to pass through.
 

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Katsumoto informs the prisoner that he is in his son's village, and asks for the prisoner's name. When Algren refuses to answer, Ujio is furious at what he takes as an insult to his Lord. He threatens the American, and calls him an impudent swine, spitting at him as he kneels on the floor!

 

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When he receives no reaction either, Ujio draws his sword and swings at Algren's neck, stopping just in time, as the sharp blade nicks the skin slightly. Again there is no reaction. Katsumoto tells him to leave the prisoner alone, so Ujio stomps off in disgust, just as the exhausted and wounded Algren passes out with a thud on the floor! 
 

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Ujio feels that their American prisoner should commit hara kiri following his defeat at the hands of the Samurai; but Katsumoto explains that it is not a Western custom to do this. Ujio states that he will do it for him!

 

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Katsumoto contemplates the situation and eventually refuses Ujio's plan, saying that it would be more useful for them to learn about their new enemies from him. Ujio seems disappointed!
 

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As Algren explores his new surroundings, guarded over by "Bob" the Silent Samurai, he watches as the warriors practice their skills, led by Ujio the Sword master.

 

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Captain Algren is amazed at the discipline of the Japanese people, and the perfection that is awarded to every single thing, from their fighting skills to every day tasks like the tea ceremony.
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As Ujio notices Captain Algren having a mock fight against one of the children, he strides up and commands Algren to drop the stick. Algren refuses, or at least ignores what Ujio is saying. Ujio repeats his order, but Algren holds the stick up in a challenge to him.

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Furious, Ujio lets rip with both his Kendo stick and with his feet. Algren is knocked to the floor, blood pouring from his nose. He gets back up several times, refusing to give in, which infuriates Ujio even more.
 

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As the torrential rain falls, soaking them, Algren stubbornly continues to put up a fight and to challenge Ujio, something that the Sword master cannot, and will not allow in front of his own men. With a final flurry of hits with his Kendo stick, Ujio flattens Algren.

 

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Thoroughly defeated and virtually unconscious, Algren lies soaked and hurt in the wet mud as Ujio stands over him, ready to dole out more punishment should the prisoner dare to move. After repeatedly refusing to give in to Ujio, Algren has at least earned some respect, if not sympathy, from those standing around watching.
 

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During one of their conversations the next day, Katsumoto teases Algren about his being taught the sword by Ujio! However, the volatile Sword master is not at all happy when Algren joins the fight training sessions the next day, and he walks up to challenge him again. 

 

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He is about to tell the American where to go, but is stopped when Katsumoto rides by, and signals for him to allow Algren to learn the sword skills. It seems that Ujio must train his enemy.
 

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So, the training continues, and Algren once again faces the unbeatable Ujio. The Sword master shows no emotion as he faces the man he still considers his enemy: if he is not allowed to kill him, he can at least inflict some pain on him!

 

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The Samurai notice as Algren's skills improve over the weeks; and some of them bet on the outcome of his fights with Ujio. Algren is once again defeated and is getting very fed up of losing, and of the inevitable pain that comes with defeat.
 

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Ujio stares menacingly into Algren's eyes, confident that the American will never be able to beat him in a fight.

 

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After two defeats, Algren recalls Nobutada's words of advice to him. "No mind." He concentrates and tries to empty his mind of everything but the task at hand, and faces Ujio for the third time. 
 

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Ujio seems disbelieving, and rather shocked, as in his third attempt, the American manages a draw against him.  

 

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Ujio nods grudgingly at Algren in acknowledgement of his draw. Algren bows to Ujio, but knows that he has accomplished quite a feat in drawing against the Sword master, maybe he would never beat him, but a draw was pretty damned good!
 

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The village enjoy an evening comedy drama, which Katsumoto himself participates in, bring a hearty laugh from his son Nobutada, and a rare smile to the lips of the fierce Ujio. 

As the people enjoy the show, Algren notices someone moving on a rooftop and yells out a warning as a group of ninja assassins attack the village. 

 

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Ujio urges his master to go inside, so that he can be protected. It is imperative that the murder of Katsumoto is prevented, and Ujio feels that his Lord would be safer indoors. Katsumoto is reluctant to go, but is eventually persuaded by the determined and loyal Ujio.
 

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As Ujio and the Samurai warriors fight off the ninjas outside, he is perhaps unaware that Katsumoto and Algren are fighting for their lives indoors as the assassins break into the house.

 

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With the ninja assassins killed, Ujio gives a triumphant yell, signaling the end of the fight.
 

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Following the assassination attempt, and with winter gone, it is time to leave Nobutada's village and for Katsumoto to go to Tokyo to try and get an audience with the Emperor. Algren is also to be returned to Tokyo. Ujio gives the command for the troop to move off. 

 

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Katsumoto lead the Samurai into Tokyo. He is determined to speak to the Emperor and to attend the council. 

Algren is returned to his post, but he has no intention of leading the troops against the Samurai, who he has come to admire and respect.

 

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Ujio stares impassively ahead as panic fills the streets, and the crowd either bow or run away as the Samurai pass them.

 

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Imprisoned by Omura, Katsumoto feels that all is lost and contemplates Hara Kiri. Then Algren turns up and informs Katsumoto that it is time to escape; they hear a few thuds outside the door, and the door is opened to reveal Ujio, the guards sprawled dead at his feet. He hands Algren the swords.
 

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Algren, Ujio and Katsumoto make their escape, stepping lightly over the result of Ujio's successful rescue attempt, lying scattered about their feet.

 

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As they escape, Katsumoto and Ujio back in dismay as Nobutada is shot. Katsumoto's instinct is to go to his son, but Ujio holds him back, knowing that it is imperative that his Lord lives to fight on. Algren risks his life to bring Nobutada to his father, but it is too late.
 

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Ujio realises that they must leave the dying boy, and urges the grieving Katsumoto to hurry. Nobutada tells his father to go, and prepares himself for his death and to defend his father and the Samurai with his last breath. He goes out bravely, taking a few of the soldiers with him.

 

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The time has come to face the Imperial Army and Ujio, like the other Samurai, prepares himself for the battle ahead in his own way. 
 

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Ujio performs the traditional dance of death. Kagura and kyogen are included in the dance of death. His movements, using his fan, are so beautiful and graceful.

 

 

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The dance of death is soulful, with meaning in every movement that he performs. It is a wonderful contrast to the devastating ruthlessness that he is capable of when facing an enemy.
 

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As Ujio prepares himself to face death, his dance shows another side of his samurai character, a side that is serene and disciplined, and in touch with himself, and his God. 

 

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Ujio is incensed when he sees Algren emerging from Taka's house wearing Hirotoro's armour. 
 

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Eventually he puts his feelings aside, tugs Algren's armour into place, and accepts that the Captain will fight with them.

 

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It is time to leave the village. Ujio and the Samurai shout out their battle cry, psyching themselves up for the fight to come.
 

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The Samurai are amused as Katsumoto informs them that the Imperial Army have refused to surrender to them! Even Ujio manages a rare smile!

 

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On Katsumoto's order, Ujio dons his distinguishable long horned helmet. Get into position men... it's time to fight.
 

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Leading the charge of the Samurai cavalry against their enemies, Ujio, with spear in hand, easily finds his target.

 

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His helmet tossed aside, and his horse gone, Ujio roars out his battle cry, and throws himself into the fight, unafraid of death to come. 
 

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Ujio's Samurai sword flails through the air, slicing at anyone near him. At close range, the soldiers stand no chance against his fury, his power and his swordsmanship.

 

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Then, Ujio grimaces as he feels a bullet rip through his body as he is shot in the back by a soldier.
 

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Down on his knees and wounded, Ujio is determined to fight on... it's going to take more than one bullet to finish off this hardened warrior!

 

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Brushing away his comrade's offers of help, Ujio barks out orders to the other Samurai.
 

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Against all odds, the Samurai win the first skirmish through sheer tactical brilliance, strength and willpower. A shot Ujio surveys the battlefield.

 

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Katsumoto, flanked by Ujio and Algren look on, and prepare themselves to charge the enemy, knowing that the odds are heavily against them because of the artillery and Howitzers that face them.
 

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His face streaked with his enemies' blood, Ujio glares at his enemies and looks as if he is relishing the last fight to come.

 

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Sword drawn, Ujio is ready to do battle to the death.
 

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Ujio, Katsumoto and Algren push their horses in a final charge against the Imperial Army.

 

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Charging at the army's guns and cannon, the Samurai are brought down in droves. The bullets tear into Ujio.

 

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Ujio and his horse fall as he is killed by a  hail of the army's bullets. As befitting a Samurai, he dies an honorable warrior's death. 

 

 

 

 

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