Classics Review: Seven Samurai

Hello fellow movie goers from around the globe. Today’s classic review is an influential film that became a tentpole on the film industry. Story is about villagers who hire samurai to fight bandits from raiding their town and learn to defend themselves. What I’m referring to is none other than Akira Kurosawa’s groundbreaking epic, “Seven Samurai.”

Seven Samurai was released in 1954. (same year Godzilla came out) It received universal acclaim from critics and movie goers alike. Plus, it made enough revenue at the box office. Overtime, the film is labeled as one of the best films. The Criterion Collection digitally restored Seven Samurai on DVD/Blu-Ray as spine number 2. It inspired countless films with a similar plot such as “The Magnificent Seven,” (1960 and 2016) “Star Wars,” The Three Amigos,” “A Bug’s Life,” & “Galaxy Quest.” Many filmmakers cited Seven Samurai as an influential part of their careers including George Lucas, Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Sam Peckinpah, Peter Jackson, The Wachowskis, George Miller, Genndy Tartakovsky, Quentin Tarantino & Sergio Leone. Without Akira Kurosawa, our favorite films and directors would’ve never existed.

The reason why I wanted to review this film, is because “Ghost of Tsushima” (a video game inspired by Kurosawa’s works) is getting a sequel. As of mid-2022, no release date has been announced.

Strong & Weak Qualities

Strong: Akira Kurosawa did an excellent job directing. He also wrote the script. I’m gonna give him credit for setting a benchmark as an influential filmmaker. We owe Kurosawa a big thank you.

The Cast all did an amazing job for their respective performances. Kurosawa’s frequent collaborator, Toshiro Mifune stole the film as Kikuchiyo. A hot-blooded, warrior with a hidden heart of gold. Kikuchiyo inspired John Belushi’s samurai character on “SNL.”

Action Sequences were coordinated with actual stuntmen.

Practical Effects were heavily involved to stage battle scenes.

Cinematography captures decent in-depth imagery. Makes me wanna replay Ghost of Tsushima in “Kurosawa Mode.”

Chemistry between the samurai and the villagers plays a crucial role as they prepare for battle.

Wipe Transitions are used to go from one scene to another. George Lucas also used this technique in the Star Wars series.

Costume Designs and Set Pieces reflect the Tensho era dating back to 1573-1592.

Character Development involving the samurai and villagers. As the film progresses, they start to trust one another.

Pacing didn’t feel like a drab for a three-and-a-half-hour film. I didn’t feel miserable at all. It’s Kurosawa’s longest film ever!

Primary Themes are Teamwork, Trust, Loyalty & Code of Honor. Each one is handled maturely.

There’s no eye-rolling forced romance between two characters. It’s done very carefully based on social class.

The First Half builds up team formation, characterization and samurai training the villagers to defend themselves against bandits. The Second Half gets better.

Now that we have DVD/Blu-Ray players, you can skip the Intermission. If you wish to leave the Intermission segment running, so be it.

A Battle in the Rain inspired “The Lord of the Rings: The Towers.”

Weak: If you’re not into movies with subtitles, you’ll probably dislike it. I on the other hand, managed to get use it. I’ll let this con slide.

The Final Verdict: A, FOR APEX!

As a modern movie goer born in 1993, Seven Samurai is a cornerstone in cinema history inspiring past, present and future filmmakers. I think this is the best (if not the best) film of 1954. If you’re new to Akira Kurosawa’s work, I strongly recommend this masterpiece and his other gems like “Rashomon,” “The Hidden Fortress,” “Yojimbo” & “Ran.” They’re included in The Criterion Collection. Give em’ all a try. If you’re a modern movie goer like me, you won’t be disappointed.

Which film in The Criterion Collection should I review next? Please leave a comment and I’ll respond back.

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