Seven Samurai (review)

Seven Samurai (review)

Everyone gripes about how dumb movies are, how the action is undirected and the target audience must be cretins (or seventeen-year olds) (same difference).

Seven Samurai is a movie that treats you like an adult. You stand with the heroes as they strategize their desperate defense (against forty mounted bandits – yow!). You are given time to know the characters (at over three hours, the movie doesn’t rush).  The action is brutally realistic (not funny and not bloodless – there aren’t seven samurai at the end).

It’s just a damn … good … movie. One of the best of all time.

Produced by Akira Kurosawa in 1954, this masterpiece loosely lifted a legend from Japanese history, where a village faced with an impending bandit attack hired samurai (rather like having your cul-de-sac hire the national guard). Yet in this unique storyline, the only thing black and white is the film the movie is shot on. The samurai themselves are not virtuous; each has his own goals and baggage. And the villagers, it turns out, are not simple rustic bumpkins (they have their own secrets, collectively and individually). So goes the first 90 minutes of movie, with tensions building and secrets spilling. And just as the pressure is maxing with jealousies, passions and greed threatening to tear the tenuous alliance apart, suddenly the bandits are whooping down the long hill, everyone’s grabbing their weapons and the battle is joined.


This is a movie with samurai so cool, they can stroll into the darkness, capture an enemy musket and return, calmly noting two kills before dropping into an easy sleep. One where wise leaders calmly cross off enemy symbols on his rice paper log as each bandit is dispatched. And one where a bumpkin samurai can redeem himself with base nobility.

It’s got thundering horses and driving rain (at the same time, too).  It’s got four fortified fronts, seven samurai, ten-man peasant squads, forty bandits. It runs over three hours, it’s in black and white, it’s subtitled. And it’s so very, very cool.

Remember this – it might seem clichéd. But that’s just because all your movies come from this movie.