Seven Samurai (Shichinin no Samurai) Reviews

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Super Reviewer
January 28, 2015
Kurosawa's perfected blend of action, humor, and pathos is on display in this masterpiece. Three and a half hours never felt so short and entertaining.
Super Reviewer
½ December 3, 2012
Kurosawa's outstanding samurai epic that has become one of the most praised films of all times. It is a magnificent and immensely involving film with many powerful action scenes and seven three-dimensional characters in a compelling story of honor and sacrifice.
Super Reviewer
October 20, 2006
A rural village in feudal Japan decides to fight back against the bandits who have been raiding them by hiring samurai from a nearby town. One of the many remarkable things about Akira Kurosawa's astonishing historical epic is the fact that at nearly 3 and a half hours it never drags for a single second of it's length. Not one bit. That fact alone is testament to Kurosawa's incredible skill as both writer and director. The balance of artful visuals and narrative is perfect and every character is fascinating and perfectly played, especially Toshiro Mifune's gleeful and almost feral glory hound and Takashi Shimura's good hearted but wily Ronin. And if like me you still wanted more after its not inconsiderable running time, its Hollywood remake The Magnificent Seven is a damn fine film in its own right. One of the pinnacles of world cinema.
Super Reviewer
November 23, 2012
So many words come to mind in describing Akira Kurosawa's epic action drama Seven Samurai. This is filmmaking at its very best. This is an expertly crafted film that is grand in scope and delivers the ultimate viewing experience for the cinema buff. The plot is simple, yet the execution is immaculate, with great directing, wonderful pacing and great action scenes. The film combines elements of a drama and action film very well and there's enough going for this film to make it stand out as a definitive classic of cinema. Akira Kurosawa is a master of cinema, one of the greats and he has proved that with this outstanding work. This film is not for everyone as it is nearly four hours long and it focuses more on telling a compelling story than focusing on action. With that said, Seven Samurai is a beautiful picture that some great performances and is among the best foreign films ever made. What is surprising about this film is that director Kurosawa is able to pull off such a grand film using such a simple idea. The result is outstanding. Filmed in beautiful black and white, Seven Samurai is an epic picture that would influence films for many years to come. With this picture, Akira Kurosawa created new ideas that would be seen in many future releases. The reason that this film is so good is because the film relies more on performances and storytelling to entertain the viewer and it does that in spades. If you're not into epics or hate slow-paced movies, then this is not a film for you. However if you want to watch one of the defining works in cinema history, regardless, Seven Samurai is definitely essential viewing. This for me is one of the first grand epics of the 1950's and other would soon follow such as The Ten Commandments and Ben-hur. Seven Samurai is long, granted, but you can't deny its impact on cinema, and with that said, it's a masterful picture that is breathtaking from start to finish.
Super Reviewer
February 1, 2012
Ones of the rare film, that we could say that it's perfect.
Super Reviewer
June 3, 2012
Akira Kurosawa's masterpiece is always heralded as the best and purest action film ever made. It's definitely in the top contenders, but 'Seven Samurai' is so much more. Combining Kurosawa's usual favourites Toshiro Mifune and Takashi Shimura, the film tells a now classic cinematic tale of a group of seven samurai, brought together by villagers to defend them against invading bandits.

Running at almost three and a half hours, many normal cinema goers will be put off buying or renting a DVD for this story, when they could just see it in half the time in 'The Magnificent Seven'. But that would be a terrible mistake. Scarred in the US by cuts by American editors to the build up, the film require the first two hours to make the last hour long battle actually matter to any member of the audience.

During those first two hours each character gets their turn to shine, and all of them do. There isn't a single performance or moment from any of the samurai or supporting cast which lets down the film, as each personality and background of the characters is explored in great detail. This detail is what forms the real basis of Kurosawa's story, a study of the relations between the samurai class and the real people, represented by the farmers. The relations between the class and classless, between the high ranked and the low. The themes of honour, sacrifice and most importantly friendship are all thrown in for good measure, beautifully depicted through the purest form of cinematic storytelling I have seen for a long time.

Lest us forget the action sequences. Perhaps the best in the world? That is a difficult question to answer and I would say not. But the action and battle sequences in 'Seven Samurai' have influenced and affected so many other action films, in every year subsequent, that set ups which we see as normal average components of action fight scenes, first appeared in this masterpiece. Much of the action was a homage to Westerns of the period, but the final sword and arrow battle in the mud and rain will outdo any cowboy shootout.

Awarding the title 'masterpiece', as well as 'classic' to any film, is a tricky and often dangerous one. But this film deserves them in the fullest sense and honour of the words. The acting is exceptional, the action is fantastic, the cinematography and mise-en-scene wonderful. Kurosawa combines the excitement of an action film, with the calm study of people, in a racing powerful and breathtaking piece of real cinema. This is cinema glorified to its most powerful.
Super Reviewer
December 24, 2007
Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai is not merely a film classic, but a film great. One that, like Kurosawa's other work, has lived on through critics and film enthusiasts alike. The story itself has been remade countless times in different settings, different time periods and with different story aspects, but the original film still manages to remain untarnished. It's just as spectacular as it was when it first premiered in 1954. It's considered by the country it originates from to be the greatest Japanese film ever made, and I can definitely understand why. It's absolutely superb in ever detail. Its nearly 3 1/2 hour length will likely turn off most modern viewers, but those looking for a great film experience need look no further.
Super Reviewer
½ June 6, 2011
Cliched as it may seem, you cannot help but respect this film. Not only is the scale of the film epic, but the story is nuanced and much more than a series of battle sequences. It is a story of class struggle and Kurosawa isn't afraid to take his time to let you get to know these characters. Takashi Shimura is terrific as usual as the leader of the pack Kambei. Seven Samurai has a lot to say and we can thank God that Kurosawa keeps it interesting throughout the entire 3 and 1/2 hours.
Super Reviewer
January 13, 2011
As I watched what is widely considered Kurosawa's masterpiece, I realized that this is quite possibly the most imitated film in American cinema (that is that American cinema imitates this film most often; I know that The Seven Samurai is not an American film unlike one Netflix reviewer who seemed shocked that it was in Japanese; what bothered me most is that two people found that review helpful). The samurai, motivated by honor and charity, agree to protect a peasant village from invading bandits. The basic plot is ancillary to Kurosawa's two major achievements.
First, virtually all of the characters are round. Oftentimes action movies fill the protagonist army with one or two characters who serve merely as brawn, window dressing, or cannon fodder. But here each samurai who meets his end is its own tragedy. And while Kurosawa doesn't waste too much time on back-story, the fore-grounding drama is always compelling, always interesting, and always more complex than what typical films allow.
Second, the opening title cards tell us quite plainly that the bandits are the "bad guys." In another film, they would be given red light sabers. But when we finally get to see the bandits' camp, we're struck by the similarity between the bandits' lives and the villagers'. One of the bandit houses is set on fire, and to validate the bandits' "badness," a woman notices the blaze but neglects to warn anybody. This is the closest Kurosawa comes to demonizing the enemy. Additionally, whereas the samurai are willing the spare the life of a prisoner, the village elder permits his execution by a blood-thirsty crowd and a woman avenging her son. Thus, Kurosawa does what few action films even attempt: he problematizes reductive conceptions of "good" and "evil." Throughout The Seven Samurai, we always know who we're going to root for, but in Kurosawa's hands, we can't be uncritical of our heroes.
For modern audiences used to sharp, stylized action sequences, this film might seem a bit dated. For me, I didn't really care because such sequences rarely adequately compel me. I did have issues with the performances, which I thought were often over-the-top with screaming and yelling where subtlety might have worked better.
Overall, this is an important film, the progenitor of a genre, and almost all of it stands the test of time.
Super Reviewer
September 6, 2009
An incredible achievement in early film and a kick-ass action film to boot. Full review later.
Keiko A. --Samurai--
Super Reviewer
September 8, 2010
So i have Just watched Seven Samurai agine and it is one of the best movies Japan has ever made. This isn't the only Akira Kurosawa's masterpiece.

The premise: in chaotic 16th century Japan, as marauders threaten raid villages, one village hires samurai to defend it from a group of bandits. Yet Kurosawa developed these characters in a way unheard of for what might pass as an epic action film. To its astonishing credit, through all of its 207 minutes running time, Seven Samurai never falters or bores. And if the script is a marvel in itself, the acting and production design than derive from it are nothing short of superlative. It is said that Kurosawa forced the villagers to live together as a community during production and be their characters, each and every one of which he had drawn out specifically. This unusual technique gave Seven Samurai a feel of authenticity unparalleled in film history.

The samurai themselves are so richly given life to in the screenplay that little more would have been needed to make them memorable characters, yet the main cast pay off at every turn, and though every one of the seven main actors give in perfect performances, two immortal roles have a particularly resounding effect: Takashi Shimura, who plays the leader of the ragged band of samurai, gives his sage and venerable warrior a god-like intensity that makes the magnetic charisma of his character unquestionable. One of the easiest leaders to root for in all the history of film-making. Stealing the show however, albeit by a very thin margin, is longtime Kurosawa favorite coworker Toshiro Mifune as the rogue seventh, the black sheep of the herd, giving the bravura ultimate performance of a lifetime paved throughout with great roles.

The story follows them and the villagers, equally nuanced and developed, through their encounter, training, eventual bonding and the big inevitable fight for survival. Unlike subsequent very successful remakes, seven Samurai transcended excellency by having many layers and thus being very real and human. Even without the menace, its interpersonal dynamics would have made it perfect human drama, subtle, balancing comedy, intensity, realism, drama and a deep philosophy with astonishing ease, yet the menace does materialize and thus Seven Samurai unleashes its violence in a series of action scenes crafted with such vision and ingenuity as has ever reached an action film.

In the end, what made this into solid gold was, at the core, Akira Kurosawa, who would, despite directing many further masterpieces (Throne of Blood, Yojimbo, Red Beard, Dersu Uzala, Kagemusha, Ran), would never top this one. Throughout his life, Kurosawa kept confirming his status as perhaps the greatest director ever. If so, Seven Samurai is the ultimate proof of that truth.

Keiko's Score 100%
Super Reviewer
July 4, 2010
i thought it was really boring and way too long. i just don't see what's so great about the movie. it's not a bad movie but I just couldn't get into the movie. I really tried to like it but I just didn't that much. it did have good parts to it though. C
Super Reviewer
July 2, 2010
Arguably the greatest war epic ever made, and without a doubt one of the greatest movies of all time. Kurosawa's 1954 film is a veritable textbook on how to shoot, cut, frame and present violence on screen. It's clearly one of the most influential films ever made, and remains awe-inspiring even today.
Super Reviewer
January 19, 2010
Seven Samurai is a masterpiece, there's no doubt about it. While it's not necessarily my favorite film by Akira Kurosawa, it is definitely his most powerful work. Toshiro Mifune steals the entire movie, Kikuchiyo is a character that no one can forget. He has a great deal of character development and has the most investment in the battle. The conclusion of his life is nothing short of heroic. The style Kurosawa brings to this, like all of his films, is outstanding. Everything is extremely well planned and precise. The look of the film is utterly beautiful, the final battle is perfectly dark and tragic. There is an incredible sense of imagery that cannot be forgotten as well. I think it's a movie that everyone should sit down and see at least once. It is truly an epic, clocking in at 3 1/2 hours, but it goes by so fast that you don't even notice it.
Super Reviewer
½ January 1, 2010
I was surprised how long this film was haha I must admit I found it good in places yet abit dull in others. There is much talking and planning before the actual showdown which is obviously needed but I found it slowed the whole thing down in places to be honest but the whole Japanese experience keeps you intrigued and interested. The reason for the length of course is to examine every character, their story and the gradual progression and bonding with the villagers, its a rewarding film but you gotta have patience :)
Personally I love the recruitment of the samurai and the many different characters you see, the training of the villagers and sparring between the samurai is also brilliantly done. There is never any blood or gore and hardly any rousing musical scores, mainly just simple Japanese style tunes which make it so much better, but the look is one of the best aspects of the film despite being leagues away from modern films. Everything looks so perfect from the village to the landscapes but I like the outfits the best, each samurai looks so authentic and tells a story for each man in the detail and that includes the bandits who also look great, especially the bandit leader, I love the visuals here.

I'm not gonna speak of the plot as I'm sure everyone knows about it and the many many films that have taken the plot over the years 'cough' Sergio 'cough' Leone 'cough' ;)
Its a slow burning story but probably one of the best developed and explored stories committed to film.
Super Reviewer
June 19, 2006
This film is, without a doubt, an epic classic if there ever was one. The performances are spectacular, especially from the always relaible scene stealer Toshiro Mifune. I loved that, even though this film was long, there was a lot to it besides fighting and battles. In fact, fighting and battles make up very little of what's offered here, with the bulk of the running time devoted to character development, story, and historic social/class commentary. This is one of the greatest and most influential films of all time, and I'm glad I finally got around to seeing it. I saw so much in this film that nfluenced others (with The Magnificent Seven being the most obvious example). This is a beautiful and amazing movie. I still have a few more of his films to see, but Akira Kurosawa is quickly becoming a film maker I totally love and respect.
Super Reviewer
January 9, 2009
Well, if you haven't seen Seven Samurai then you're not really qualified to call yourself a film fan, basically. One of the most influential movies of all time, that still holds up extremely well nearly 50 years later. Akira Kurosawa's epic tale of heroism and barbarism set the standard in so many ways it's hard to imagine that any modern film does not show its influence in some way or other. A great script, great characters, mostly great acting, splendid cinematography and action sequences that wrote the book about how these things should be filmed. Even now, after so many have tried to imitate or beat it, Seven Samurai remains a totally gripping 3.5 hour experience. Akira Kurosawa is one of the gods of Cinema - men who seem to have been born to make films, who have it in their blood. People like Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick, King Hu and Steven Spielberg, who make it look easy... who so obviously "get it". In this pantheon, Kurosawa is perhaps the daddy of them all, however, and Seven Samurai is one of his finest moments. The scale of the production is remarkable - to undertake making such an epic in post-war Japan was a feat in itself. The cast of dozens of inhabitants of a village specially built for the movie, the 40 bandits and their horses, all the costumes, the armour, the weapons. Few directors could have brought all of this together and still paid such attention to the smallest of details in script and scene. Credit must go to the team Kurosawa worked with too, I presume The movie's setup became the template for many movies to follow, the most recentl example that comes to mind being the excellent Korean period movie MUSA (The Warrior), for example. A motley band of characters is assembled and placed in a situation where the odds are seemingly stacked against them, and each gets there chance to really shine, prove themselves and become something more than a normal man. Kurosawa's Samurai movies all share a little bit in common, which is the depiction of the Samurai as some noble beast, different from the common and pathetic rabble of ordinary man. In Seven Samurai the farmers are a base lot, cowardly, selfish, vain, pathetic and treacherous. How he found actors with such miserable looking faces is a mystery in itself. In contrast, the Samurai embody all the qualities that humanity would generally like to believe define it (us). Brave, righteous, honest, strong and heroic. Toshiro Mifune's character stands in the middle and represents this difference - perhaps meant to suggest that mankind can strive to rise above his flaws, but mostly suggesting to me that the common man is basically a mess and we should learn to respect our betters. Kurosawa was definitely not a socialist, unless I'm mis-reading him wildly. I'm sure many out there wonder, does a 50 year old black and white movie about Samurai really have any interest or relevance to us in the 21st century? The answer is a definite "Yes!". Seven Samurai shows us what cinema can be, what cinema is *meant* to be. It is moving picture as art in a way that the multiplex-fillers of today cannot possibly claim to be. It's a film that satisfies on many different levels, and still provides a bench mark which today's film makers could and should use to evaluate their own contributions. True, few out there will ever be able to claim they've made a film that rivals Seven Samurai in scope or beauty, but this *is* what every director should aspire to! The sad thing is, I just can't see a project like this ever coming out of the Hollywood studio system, where art is just another commodity and marketing is the new god
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