A very slow, yet suspenseful and enjoyable film starring Toshiro Mifune and Lee Marvin as soldiers, of their own nations, stranded on an uninhabited Pacific island during WWII.
A Japanese Soldier, presumably having been on the island for days, if not longer, discovers that an American Soldier also crash landed on the same island. They instantly are fearful of each other and are ready to kill the other if necessary. The American Soldier at first only wants water from the Japanese Soldier, but, being enemies, they have constant battles where the Japanese man ends up sending the American hiding in the woods. Soon the American starts destroying the Japanese man's handmade survival tools. So, the Japanese man ends up capturing the American, and then the American escapes and captures the Japanese man- though eventually they have to rely on each other to survive, and they both realize it. They work together to survive and find a way off the island and create a sort of friendship.
Both actors are amazing and the fact that there is very little dialogue, and no subtitles for Mifune's Japanese makes the film seem much more real. It's as if we're just observing this as its happening, and if you don't know English, you don't know what Marvin is saying, and if you don't know Japanese, you don't know what Mifune is saying - though, visually, it is very clear - most of the time - what they mean.
As a visually based film the cinematography is absolutely beautiful, and there's this sort of weird bizarre style that highlights the paranoia these two enemies have with each other. There's a score to accompany their struggles, and in the long run you may end up caring for both soldiers equally. They just want to survive and get back home, and this is a fine observation of that.
One flaw, though its probably just because I know English and not Japanese, is that Marvin came across as mean and he always seemed to have the upper hand. Really Mifune's character could have survived on his own due to his craftsmanship, but one of the themes that the Japanese soldier needed the American soldier's ability to 'take charge' was a bit much. It seemed like the American, at times, was only using Mifune, because really it was the American that needed him more than he needed the American. This flaw is very small and not very noticeable, in my opinion, but it is definitely present. I know its the character, but it's all fiction, so to have them need each other equally with the situation's desperation, they each need to be equal in those sort of skills or at least have Marvin's character have a better quality than just 'taking charge'.
Besides that, this movie is a WWII masterpiece that shouldn't be missed by anyone. It's a very original premise portrayed extremely well.