Thursday, December 4, 2014

Seven Samurai Review.

Seven Samurai, the iconic and critically acclaimed Japanese historical epic that has inspired countless remaking including the classic western, The Magnificent Seven.
Seven Samurai is about the story of a village hiring Seven "ronin," another name for a masterless or freelance Samurai, to protect their village from bandits that annually steal their crops.

According to George Lucas, the work of Akira Kurosawa, the director of Seven Samurai and many other classics, influenced some aspects of Star Wars, particularly the Samurai, which are obviously similar to the Jedi. One minor aspect is that the older leader of the group, Takashi Shimura, rubbed his in a fashion very similar to how Yoda does several times during the films, which I believe Lucas confirms in the commentary track. A while back, I even wrote a post about a possible Seven Jedi movie, which you can read here, but please note that it is not as high quality as my newer posts. Even an episode of The Clone Wars, entitled “Bounty Hunters,” is a remake of the classic story.

Back when I watched the movie for the first time, Seven Samurai was my first real introduction to Japanese cinema. While, at the time, I had probably seen parts of Japanese movies, this was the first one that I watched in subtitles to completion. In fact, this was well before I become an Otaku (anime-fan), and watching Seven Samurai probably indirectly influenced my interest in anime. Of course, since watching Seven Samurai I have seen other Japanese films, as well as a lot of anime. On a side note, there is even an anime series that is inspired by Seven Samurai titled, Samurai 7.
Samurai 7
Directed by: Akira Kurosawa
Genre: Epic, Foreign Language, Action,
Release Date: April 26, 1954
Running Time: 207 minutes
MMPA rating: PG

The Good: Epic sweeping story, Likeable characters, Excellent directing, Impressive final battle, Effective character development, Superb cinematography, Strong performances,

The Bad:

Plot: 9.7/10- Seven Samurai’s plot is deceptively simple on the outside, but incredibly effective and perfectly executed. Considering that the premise has been remade so many times, it should be no surprise that the themes resonate so well with so many cultures even today. While viewers with short attention spans might be easily bored by the film’s slow start, and because the first 30 minutes are somewhat odd, for those not familiar with the culture, which included me when back when I first watched it, the film is deliberately paced for a reason. By the end of the movie, you feel the impact of the journey that the film has taken you on.

Characterization: 9.5/10- Thanks to the long runtime, each character is given ample development and motivation. Each character follows a now familiar archetype, which was likely started by this film. Among the excellent cast of likable characters, Kambei Shimada and Kikuchiyo are my personal favorites.
Action: 9.2/10- While far from being action packed by today’s standards, Seven Samurai’s action in the later portions of the film are rather impressive, so much so that I even included the final on my Top 10 Movie Battles of All-Time. For the time, few, if any, action scene was better than many of the ones in Seven Samurai. The stun work is impressive and all of it is done with wide angle shots that heavily contrast the horrid shaky-cam of today’s action. However, viewers that are expecting fast paced action will likely be disappointed. Also, filming the final battle in the rain could not have been easy.

Acting: 9.3/10- Even though some of the background actors overact, the main cast is excellent. Despite not being to understand the language, the expressiveness in the performances of the cast almost conveys what they are saying, particularly Toshiro Mifune as Kikuchiyo and Takashi Shimura as Kambei Shimada. The rest of the Seven are all fantastic as well.

Soundtrack: 7.7/10- Seven Samurai’s soundtrack compliments the film well.

Humor: 7.5/10- To my surprise, there is some good humor to be found in the film, particularly from the character of Kikuchiyo.

Entertainment Value: 7.9/10- Admittedly, with a runtime of over three hours, Seven Samurai is not the type of film that you can just rewatch and have a fun time. However, despite a few slower points, the film maintains a constant level of interest by the viewer.

Overall: 9.5/10- Overall, Seven Samurai more than lives up to its legendary status. While many modern viewers will likely find the film too slow, any classic film fan, Otaku, or anyone interested in foreign cinema should most definitely watch Akira Kurosawa’s masterpiece.

Closing comments: While many remakes have tried, you can never top the original Seven Samurai.

Recommended for: Classic film fans, Otaku, Historical epics fans, Epic fans, Magnificent Seven fans,

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  1. Great review - Seven Samurai is one of my favourites too. Definitely a classic in the genre and a must-watch for Otaku!

    1. Thank you Jamb. Far too many don't want to watch it unfortunately, since it is "old."


  2. AHK, all the gifs are reminding me of different parts of the movie. I forgot how awesome this really was; though to my defense, the last time I saw it was eight years ago. Great review!

    A Bugs Life is still one of my favorite adaptations of this story, lol!


    1. Yeah, that is quite some time to remember such a long movie all that well.


  3. Haven't seen it in 20 years but I remember it being brilliant. May have to track down a copy and watch again!

  4. Great review! :) This looks like a great movie and since I like martial arts(and have always liked samurai- kendo and katori, which I'm learning in college, are actually samurai martial arts, which is cool! :) ) I can tell I would probably like it.
    Have you ever watched the film "To Live"? It's a Chinese film and it's very well done.

    1. Yes, this is a must-watch due to your interests in various Asian culture. And no, I have never heard of it, I will have to look into it.


  5. Although I didn't love this movie, I did appreciate it greatly. And now, when he's presented with a perplexing problem by one of our kids, my hubby will rub the back of his head and frown and say, "Hmmmmmmmm." Cracks me up no end :-D


One rule: No strong profanity. If you want to link to one of your posts, please do; I am always interested in other reviews and such.

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