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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a classic that inspired many tributes
A reviewer once wrote that the most amazing thing about Seven Samurai is that one-and-a-half hours into the movie, we're still in the character development part, and nobody's even noticed the movie has been running that long already. sure, it's not for everybody, especially for those who grew up with mostly Hollywood commercial fare that last 70-90 minutes. but for even...
Published on July 19 2004 by Lakan Kildap

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars DVD was a slight let-down
I bought this DVD with the idea that The Criterion Collection produces very high quality DVDs. Though I understand this is an old film, I was very surprised to find that the quality of the print was inferior to the DVD of the same film published in the UK by the British Film Institute (available on amazon's UK site). The UK release was transferred from a new and seemingly...
Published on Jan. 11 2002 by Webster Forrest


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5.0 out of 5 stars Why Seven Samurai?, Jan. 22 2004
By 
J. Stewart "but actually R. Stewart" (North Carolina) - See all my reviews
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Why is this film so great? What sets it apart from those countless other "classic" samurai flicks involving feudal japan and its daimyo's and geisha? Many things. First off, it is directed by Akira Kurosawa, one of the directors hailed by Lucas, Spielberg and others as inspiration for their films (Star Wars being one). The story begins. We see a village distraught because it is being marauded by a band of savage bandits. Destruction seems to be coming. The village's only chance is to have samurai protect it. But that's a slim chance.
Until a man is seen shaving his head, posing as a preist to save a hostage victim from a crazed bandit hiding in a shed. Many think this was the beginning of the "scene" in which has nothing to do with the later plot. I wouldn't doubt it. This man is taken as the Samurai leader. And agrees to protect the village. For rice.
Heres where some turn away from this film. Some wonder why a samurai would protect a village with little to no pay. Here's where some knowledge of Japan must be known. Samurai will take any job, it is their nature. It seems to be almost masochistic as the bandits keep attacking after repeatedly losing men towards the end of the film.
Why is this film rated with only four and a half stars? It is, I feel the best movie of all time. Many critics, including Roger Ebert, agree.
So, what is it you say? Why is the movie so special? I think it is the characters that set it apart. This movie shows the most brilliant character development I have ever seen in a film. Every perfomance is memorable. Especially Toshiro Mifune's, playing as the lazy-romantic Kikuchiyo. TAkashi Shimura's performance as the group's leader is also very memorable.
The audience feels a certain euphoria when watching the characters. They laugh and cry all at the appropriate times. They scream with the intensity we all know. The hate you feel when protecting some thing you care for. I would argue that this movie shows the best acting in a film since films have been around. Its so amazing, so astounding, that one feels they are there, and despite the film being in black and white, can feel the colors of life through the characters..
Its really indescribable how touching the movie is. Some have called it sadistic, but it brings about a really good moral. A lesson. That some things must move on, and the hero's aren't always the one's that save the day...
My rating: 5 stars. Best film ever made.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Undisputed masterpiece gets the DVD release it deserves., Jan. 19 2004
By 
Ben Rowland (Toronto, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
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Defining the "best movie ever made" is very subjective, and the hype generated by such praise often gives viewers expectations that a single movie cannot hope to satisfy. Akira Kurosawa's "Seven Samurai" is one of the rare movies in that it is universally praised and admired by film scholars and casual views alike. Though I will claim that this is indeed the best movie ever made, it is near the top of my list, and I firmly believe that it deserves every inch of the hype. And it also goes without saying that the Criterion DVD is the only way to go.
Despite the long running time, the story is surprisingly easy to follow. A group of poor villagers, impoverished by constant attacks by bandits, hire a group of ronin samurai to defend their village from the impending attacks. The main character is played by Kurosawa staple Toshiro Mifune, playing the misfit of the samurai group who carries the large sword over his shoulder, and can convey his thoughts without even opening his mouth. Also putting their best feet forward are several prominent Japanese actors of the day, many of whom went on to star in future Kurosawa pictures. The battle scenes, many of which take place towards the latter quarter of the movie, are masterfully choreographed and filmed, despite the low budget of the film. Also ahead of it's time was Kurosawa's camera trickery, such as the fading, the deep focus, and trademark use of weather and lighting conditions to accentuate the mood of the film (he uses heavy rain to signify hard times for the villagers, for example). For great insight into Kurosawa's technique, listen to the commentary track by Japanese film scholar Michael Jeck.
The Criterion DVD is not as full-featured as other Criterion DVDs, but this is probably due to the lack of archival material. The only real extra of note is the aforementioned commentary. It is as informative as DVD commentaries get, though so much information is given that you might be tempted to take notes. Michael Jeck is obviously an expert on the subject of not only Japanese movies, but the culture and history, and he gives plenty of side information on Japanese customs and samurai traditions. Most interesting is how he points out many nuances in Kurosawa's filming style. You will walk away with a new appreciation for the movie after hearing the commentary. On the technical side, the print is better than any previously released, and miles better than the discounted "Region Free" copies floating around. Though there is a bit of grain in the darker shots, for the most part the print is excellent.
"Seven Samurai" is a bona fide classic, and one that deserves all the praise it receives. It never feels dated, and the use of comedy, action, and drama ensures that sitting through the 3  hours is enjoyable, rather than an endurance trial. The Criterion release, with the quality transfer and the excellent commentary, is the best way to experience it. Also recommended from Kurosawa are "Ikiru", "Hidden Fortress", and "Yojimbo", and all are available from Criterion Collection.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Toshiro Mifune at his Finest, Jan. 7 2004
By A Customer
The apex of Japanese Cinema. Never in all my life have i seen a finer film from this era. When a village learns of an attack, they hire seven samurai to protect them. Akira Kurosawa will forever be remembered as the genius who created this timeless classic.
I just wanted to say that Seven Samurai is NOT a Kung Fu. The battle sequences are not made to show one man beating up thirty agressors. The samurai movies show the frailty of life. They show that even the greatest warriors can be defeated. So please never compare a movie about samurai to a Chuck Norris or Bruce Lee flick again.
Also to those who complain about the way the movie was filmed, it was 1954. There were no special effects that existed at the time. Movies had to have plots. One person attempts to compare Seven Samurai to Wing Commander, nominated for worst movie of the year, saying that wing commander had better special effects. Wing Commander was made in the 90's. it should have better effects, but the fact of the matter is, wing commander had a horriable story. Seven Samurai is a brillent motion picture. Wing Commander sucked. To whoever tried to compare these two movies i would like to ask never write a review for a classic movie again. You just are not intelligent enough to understand a complex plot.
With all that said, Seven Samurai: One of the greatest movies ever made.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wow!, Jan. 5 2004
By 
Brandon Colson "HD-DVD is garbage!!!" (Louisiana, USA) - See all my reviews
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I have not seen this movie, but The Last Samurai is now my most-favorite movie! And, researching other Samurai books, poems, and other things, a lot of people referred to this movie! I have never seen such large reviews on anything before I've come here! And, the first one I read was the best! I would also like to read what everyone else has to say about the movie, but reading the first review by JerrysOpine has said it all! Not only a great review but a summary of the other ones! Which, I would be maddened by reading! I hate reviews for those "Nitwits" as another reviewer had said! But, I love to see opinions like the ones on this first page! And, this movie will be arriving at my house within the next month! Then, I'll give an actual review! And, I apologize for having not seen this movie yet! But, I'm only 21 and am just starting to think and feel the compassion and love that movies like this bring forth! Though I love LotfR, I have a great respect for the Samurai people and will start my search and research for what this world is greatly lacking today--honour...and respect!
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5.0 out of 5 stars The True Samurai..... (film), Dec 8 2003
People are saying that "The Last Samurai" w/Tom Cruis is a good/great film. That reminds me of those who say "Pearl Harbor" with Affleck is a good war film. How I laugh at their ignorance. Kurosawa's great, moving, deep film is the samurai film template, which all the others try to copy. I laugh when I hear the masses say that "Last Samurai" is quality filming. They know nothing of what is good. They're like the masses who go and buy Britney Spears CDs. Kurosawa's film is 3.5 hours of substance, with no filler to speak -- it pulls you in immediately and holds you until the end. It's a shame that so many of the ignorant masses have yet to see this film, but yet have seen such drivel as "The Last Samurai." I won't describe Seven Samurai down to the fine details since it's already been done by others here, but I sigh, thinking that "The Last Samurai" is going to find its way into many people's homes on DVD, and have a place right next to "Pearl Harbor" in their "Japan" collection. Bottom line is, far too many people have opinions without any basis. All emotion, all knee-jerk reactions, based in a lack of knowledge.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Farmer Propoganda and the Samurai Snare, Dec 2 2003
By 
TorridlyBoredShopper "T(to the)B(to the)S" ("Daddy Dagon's Daycare" - Proud Sponsor of the Little Tendril Baseball Team, USA) - See all my reviews
Farmers find themselves living in fear, knowing that their harvest will come and that thirty bandits will drift in soon after and claim it. They know that this will leave them nothing, too, and that the already meager lives they lead might soon come to a closing. So, in order to keep what is theirs, they opt to do what any rational farmer would do. They go to recruit themselves four samurai that would be willing to work for no glory, three meals a day, and for the knowledge that they are doing something grand. Thus it begins...
When I was a kid and watched Seven Samurai, I always enjoyed the theme being presented. I liked the thought of those Samurai taking a village set in the middle of a defensive wasteland, with fields on one side and approachable mountains on the other, and seeing how seven try to even the odds with thirty. I also liked the introduction of each character as they were meticulously blended into a story that carried itself for well over 200 minutes, crafting a tune for every flavor you would care to see. After picking it up this release some year later, however, I found something in the story I had missed when I was younger. I actually listened to the dialogue and absorbed the words being stated, saw the games being played and the poses for wince they came, and I noticed for the first time that this movie wasn't a story on nobility. It was a story on players and the chess games played behind the scenes. And that made me like this movie all the more.
While sitting the table with a well-rounded cast, an enemy that isn't simply something to wholesale slaughter, and tactical maneuvering from the most unlikely of places, Seven Samurai actually sets a viewer down and submerges them in a world that they think they know at first. It introduces the supposed "good" and the opposing "evil," letting you taste the reasoning of those joining in the protection of those farmers. It also shows you their struggles and how hard it is to find an "honest" Samurai willing to help them, highlighting what it takes to live. In the process of definement moving away from that, however, it goes a step beyond that little gambit and it shows you that little world in a way you rarely see it. Here, the lines of "love," "good," "ill," and "helplessness" are all blurred as an in-depth game is showcased and exposed. And that makes it truly stand apart from many films I've seen in my life.
Its really hard to find fault in this film unless you're looking for something short and easy to decipher. It does take its time in showing you all the details, in crowning its cast, and in illustrating the true art in war. That's really the beauty of the film, too, and is recommended to those wanting more from their movie than killing and faceless lines. This is what I would honestly go so far as to call "a classic."
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Gathering., Dec 2 2003
By 
Adrian Duran Sanchez "Conductista" (Costa Rica.) - See all my reviews
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Seven, is the number of perfection, the gathering of particular men to convey resistance and strength against a band of Thieves, entering the weak and frightened hearts of the villagers, to hopefully physically refuse the attack of the marauders, the Samurai Seven are towards some 40 of the attackers, so; Can it be done? You'll have to watch it my friend to know the result of such a strange Bet. Master film director Akira Kurosawa, takes you into a complete human journey of despair, friendship, blood, and strategy, all set in the warming hearts of the protagonist, a whole micro-cell of emotions and deeds, the human comedy at its splendor, sad, tragic, humorous, and violent, Art imitating Life. Proclaimed as one of the best films ever made (which it is), Seven Samurai is one climax of human logic and emotions in the fields of battle, little can it be done to expose more feelings and savagery in every day against the inevitable tragedy of existence, and little can be offered to show more happiness when all its said. Kurosawa composes with extreme artistry of the image how a bunch of men can give hope in times of weakness, at the same time entering the dominions of complexity about War stratagem in killing fields. Sounds exiting?
The film approaches the philosophical side within every man and woman, it clears the human need for social gathering, man alone can't survive, and so its better to fall united than kill with a lonely hand. Kurosawa magnifies this issues and presents them inside an intense military organization for the sake of survival, tactics, planning, eye for opportunity, and prediction of the enemy thinking, this is the very weapon in War Stratagem, organization, targeting, and accurate killing, one by one, until it is over, then you can rest, and so Kambei (perfectly performed by Takashi Shimura) carefully organizes both the resistance and the attack, every part moves because of his masterful strategy.
Kurosawa shows the truth about this social Class, taking away all Myths and deformations of the true Samurai, instead he delivers the real struggles and perils of such an unusual profession, the protagonist are nothing more than lonely men, skilled but miserable, without any real future, some of them are in for the Glory, others, for the thrill and excitement, in this case, they are in for the food, only one stands for the need of a Master's acceptance, the youngest is in for the experience. Don't expect to see highly choreograph battle scenes, here, the raw and almost absurd violence is shown in its real state, the intention is reality, Samurai reality, a perfect script.
Released in 1954, the film lasted a complete year of shooting, Kurosawa pushed the producers for every resource he need to achieve his vision. Fortunately for him and us, the film was the biggest box-office success of that year in Japan, the result, a cinematic Masterpiece, crowned in 1979 by a group of high talented and respected Japanese artistic professionals, as the Best Japanese Picture ever made.
The movie contains some of the best frame compositions filmed in Cinema History, along with a dynamic development of every main character in the film, the final Canvas pushes for every emotion, situation and motion poetry ever to be cast in one single movie, plus it features the partnership of two of the greatest film giants, Kurosawa (Akira), and Toshiro Mifune as the merriest Kikuchiyo. Mifune portraits with musical perfection, a man lost in his personality, in deep search of meaning and commitment, it may seems like overacting, but is the character who is overacting his emotions, like a child in a adult body, a landmark performance. The beautiful musical themes and tempos gives the final touches to this fine piece.
The DVD edition (by The Criterion Collection), offers a good transferring of the movie, but its quality is not at the level of the film, scratches and dust can be seen in several of the scenes, although the ulterior visual aspects are good, a much better work could have been accomplished. The edition contains an excellent simultaneous audio commentary track by Japanese film historian, Michael Jeck, featuring deep aspects and thoughts about the making of the film, with biography of its protagonist (cast and crew), along with anecdotes surrounding this mythical production.
A must for viewers, Seven Samurai, is a cinematic reference, one of the highest peaks of the Seventh Art, and a cultural mirror of long gone men, now irrelevant but indispensable in Japanese and worldwide cultures.
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5.0 out of 5 stars "Danger always strikes when everything seems fine.", Nov. 30 2003
By 
M. Hart "Sci-Fi Fan" (USA) - See all my reviews
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Akira Kurosawa (1910-1998) is probably one of the best directors of all time. His 1954 film entitled "Seven Samurai" ("Shichinin no samurai" in transliterated Japanese) is regarded as one of his best films and is without a doubt one of the best films ever made. The film is about a small farming village in sixteenth or seventeenth-century Japan that is under threat of repeated attacks from a band of 40 bandits. Being unable to afford weapons of their own and having little spirit to defend themselves, the villagers seek guidance from their elder, Gisaku (Kokuten Kodo, 1887-1960), who advises them to find several ronin (wandering samurai) to defend the village and who would be willing to work for three square meals per day since that is all the villagers can afford to pay. Several villagers travel to a nearby city to find willing ronin. They include Manzo (Kamatari Fujiwara, 1905-1985), Yohei (Bokuzen Hidari, 1894-1971), Mosuke (Yoshio Kosugi, 1903-1968) and Rikichi (Yoshio Tsuchiya). The first ronin that they find is Kambei Shimada (Takashi Shimura, 1905-1982), who is accompanied by a young man wanting to become a samurai, Katsushiro Okamoto (Isao Kimura, 1923-1981). Kambei is not interested at first, but changes his mind when he sees the villagers' desperation. Kambei and Katsushiro are able to find four more samurai: the humorous Gorobei Katayama (Yoshio Inaba, 1921-1998), the no-nonsense & highly skilled Kyuzo (Seiji Miyaguchi, 1913-1985), Heihachi Hayashida (Minoru Chiaki, 1917-1999) and Shichiroji (Daisuke Katô, 1910-1975). Then, there's also the very humorous, samurai-want-to-be named Kikuchiyo (played the world-renowned actor Toshirô Mifune, 1920-1997). The seven travel back to the village and begin preparations for the coming battle with the bandits, but some of the villagers are afraid of what will happen to their daughters with seven samurai roaming around; especially Manzo, who forces his daughter Shino (Keiko Tsushima) to disguise herself as a boy.
Though "Seven Samurai" is approximately 206 minutes (nearly 3 hours) long, it never becomes tiresome. Instead, the film is very engaging, emotional and powerful as the story develops in large part due to superb acting, exquisite cinematography and the overall realism of the film. The acting skills of both Takashi Shimura and Toshirô Mifune stand out brilliantly. Toshirô Mifune, who made many other excellent historically based Japanese films, also appeared in many western films including the character of Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto in the 1976 World War II epic "Midway" and the character of Lord Toranaga in the 1980 TV-miniseries adaptation of James Clavell's novel entitled "Shogun". Memorable scenes in "Seven Samurai" include Kambei disguising himself as a priest, Kambei's technique of testing each samurai's reactionary skills, the battle between Kyuzo and the foolish samurai, Manzo disguising Shino, Kikuchiyo's drunkenness, the walk to the village with Kikuchiyo, the arrival at the village, Kambei studying the terrain, Kikuchiyo instructing villagers, the battle scenes and the graveyard scenes. Other memorable characters in the film include Rikichi's wife (Yukiko Shimazaki) and the bandit chief (Shinpei Takagi, 1902-1967).
Overall, I rate Akira Kurosawa's cinematic masterpiece "Seven Samurai" with a resounding 5 of out of 5 stars. It often brings tears to my eyes each time that I watch the film. I highly recommend the DVD version of the film to everyone. Sadly, the DVD is only available in full screen, but that does not detract from Akira Kurosawa's grand vision. "Seven Samurai" was remade in 1960 as the epic western "The Magnificent Seven", which starred Yul Bryner, Steve McQueen and Charles Bronson portraying gunfighters instead of samurai.
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of the greatest movies ever!, Nov. 20 2003
By 
J. Lin (Albuquerque, NM United States) - See all my reviews
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If the title seems to be hyperbole, I should point out that it's not just my opinion, but the opinion of almost all movie critics. This movie is on many top-ten-movies-of-all-time lists, for good reason. For many years, this movie was seen only in a shortened form, but Criterion has restored it to its original cut as first released. Not only that, but it has included a superb commentary that was so good that after I watched the DVD for the first time without commentary, I started to watch it with the commentary thinking I would spend a few minutes and was so fascinated that I watched the whole movie again just to find out what the commentator had to say! And this is a long movie, over 3 hours long, but it doesn't drag.
The basic story (ripped off by the inferior U.S. remake, The Magnificent Seven) is pretty straightforward. Bandits attack a village and take its crops and some of its women. When the villagers learn that the bandits plan to return, the decide to hire itinerant samurai to defend it, with the only pay being room and board. They find a remarkable samurai as the leader, and he recruits the other six, including an expert swordsman who lives for his art (the actor who played this part had never handled a sword before this movie, and never did learn to ride a horse!), and a crude bumbler (played by star Toshiro Mifune) who is actually a farmer's son pretending to be a samurai. Incidentally, Mifune was originally considered for the part of the expert swordsman, a role which he played brilliantly in two other Kurosawa movies, Yojimbo - the basis for Clint Eastwood's hit A Fistful of Dollars, and Sanjuro. But this is no simple good versus evil story. Even though the villagers have hired the samurai, they don't trust these "heroes", and hide all their women. And it appears that in the past the villagers may have killed other samurai and hidden their armor - when the samurai discover this, they are not sure they can trust the villagers either. This ambiguity adds depth to the story. All this is gradually revealed as the remainder of the film shows the samurai training the villagers, attacking the bandits to cut down their numbers, and finally, after a few skirmishes, having the climactic battle scene in the driving rain and mud, which captures the chaos of battle as well as anything ever done in the movies. Unlike most movies where the battle scenes always seem to be staged, with the big explosion center screen and nothing much else going on, Kurosawa seems to embed you right in the action so you feel as if it is going on, not just in front of you, but all around you, off- screen as well as on. This is great movie-making, and the commentary explains how he achieved this effect. And at the end, the villagers go back to rice planting, and the samurai "heroes" stand to one side - no triumphal banquet and procession for them. Now that their job is finished, they are ignored.
As I mentioned, even though the film is long, it doesn't drag, because Kurosawa omits unneccessary exposition. One example, early on after one of the samurai is killed in battle, we have a burial scene. Mifune's character, in grief, grabs a battle flag made by the dead samurai, runs on top of one of the huts in the village and defiantly plants it on top of the roof. The camera then pans up to the hills beyond the village, where we see the bandits descending to attack the village. In a few seconds the mood changes from grief to exhilaration as the long awaited battle is joined.
On the other hand, Kurosawa also includes images which, although not strictly necessary to the main narrative line, will remain with you long after the movie is over. An example, at one point the samurai locate the bandit's hideout, and set fire to it to force the bandits out. As the samurai look into the hideout, they see a woman, captured by the bandits. In a silent scene, except for a lone flute playing plaintively on the soundtrack, this woman awakens, sees the fire off-screen, starts to cry out, then decides to remain silent, even though it means she will die a horrible death. The usual martial arts movie would never even consider having a scene like this, but this short, wordless scene speaks eloquently about this nameless woman's condition and deepens the story. It is little touches like this that linger.
Martial arts movie with incredible battle scenes, character study, social commentary, as with all great art, there are a lot of different ways you can view this movie. At the time he made it, Kurosawa said he wanted to revitalize the samurai sword movie, which he considered a dead form. He did more than that - he transformed it! A lot more could, and has, been said about this movie, but bottom line: Nobody who loves movies should miss this - it is essential!
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Movie of All Time, you will laugh and you may cry, Nov. 14 2003
By 
Wyatt Watkins (Henderson, NV United States) - See all my reviews
When someone asks me what my favorite movie is, the immediate response is "Seven Samurai", the only movie that ever brought a tear to my eye.
This heroic tale is a tale about real men, men of no materialism, no induldgence (except for one), no pride, men of great temperance, honor, justice, fortitude and courage. These are the things that make this movie so great.
Seven virutous and skilled men who defend the weak from naked aggression with no concern of personal possesions or of whether they live or die. They fight for the shear fact that it is the right thing to do, that it is the moral choice, that the just act is action itself, and that inaction will lead to the loss of innocent lives. Never has a greater film been made or a greater story been told.
Some of my favorite warrior movies are Gladiator, Braveheart, Tombstone, The Patriot, and others of this type, but the men in these movies fight for vengence, and the men in Seven Samurai don't, thats why I have to rank Seven Samurai as my absolute favorite, number 1 movie of all time.
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