Jim Raynor Remastered’s review published on Letterboxd:
Hey guys! It feels good to be back once again in the site after all of the maelstrom that represents the finals and having such levels of anxiety that it felt like my chest was going to burst with a xenomorph at any moment, jajaja. That’s pretty much done now, approved every class once again, and with a brand new FilmStruck account, I can finally sit back and watch some movies once again.
As for Seven Samurai, it’s another film from renowned Japanese director Akira Kurosawa that after watching his magnum opus, I can surely confirm his talent as a storyteller.
The film starts with the sight of a group of bandits closing in to a village. The leader recognizes this as the one that they stole just months ago and decided that it was best to wait until the next harvest to maximize the earnings of their bounty. A hidden peasant hears this, and a meeting among the villagers is called upon. The misery is made apparent very quickly with their cries for mercy in the times of famine, punitive taxes, and now the bandits. After some deliberation, they agreed to sought the opinion of the elder of the village. His response; he has seen a village in good condition and that is because it is guarded by Samurais. Those dudes are rough, and require a costly pay to keep them around, better search for the ones starving. The “hook of interest” is established rather quickly, and kudos to Kurosawa of making the pacing pretty much perfect. There’s not a single dull moment to be found in the entire three and a half hours of runtime. The opening scene of the main Samurai (that later establishes the team), the light hearted of scenes of people just trying to have fun in the everyday life inside the village makes the environment more empathetic and establishes the stakes at hand, the relationships of the Samurais that shows their different personalities (the highlight being Kikuchiyo (Toshirõ Mifune in another great performance of his) and his speech rewarding the peasants) and more importantly make us care for the fates of these men once the main assault of the bandits begins. The second best part of the film in fact, because not only is it shot so perfectly so as to catch every lasting detail of the movements of the defenders and attackers, but also remaining decently unpredictable so as to keep the tension going. One such was the strategy of giving the enemy a false sense of security on their attack, by letting two of their horse riders sneak by and then set up an ambush. The bandits, however, caught on by the time they repeat this strategy twice and send a skilled cavalry archer to “kite” the disadvantaged villagers armed with just lances, and another one armed with a lance to keep those peasants away and both cause significant damage once they’re in. It’s like a strat of AoE 2 but in film and like, 40 years prior.
But the best part of the film, has to go to the ending. I’ll not spoil the ending, but the emotions felt are synonymous with a sour note. The best sour note you could ever experience, and a slap on the face so as to “wake me up” upon the themes that were developed subconsciously while I was seeing it; honor and it’s meaning on the emotional or physical value associated with it, tradition and risks associated with breaking it or the exceptions to those fundamental rules on the times of need, are such examples of the moral dilemmas that can be found.
Add some bits of bad-ass at just the right moments for extra unforgettability.
A quick comparison, with a film similar in characteristics: a group of Samurais fighting an overwhelming force for the greater good of a community, Thirteen Assassins; a film I was unfortunately unable to review due to the usual suspect that was the U; featuring more Samurais this time around with an action sequence that might have been just as exciting and considerably more bloody than the one in Seven Samurai, but lacking some of the emotional punch associated with the progressive losses of the group that accumulate over time, maybe it is associated by the fact that they’re not given much development for me to fully care about their fates. Also worth noting is the persistence inside of my mind of Seven Samurai since the day I had seen, despite some technical difficulties I had to get through while seeing it (the DVD player started skipping pretty badly halfway through, so I had to resort to a portable one connected to the TV, but karma struck again and it wouldn’t read the disk anymore, so I had to use backup plan #3 and just use my computer), guess that a later rewatch might intensify those feelings even more.
Just to be simple, Seven Samurai is the bomb, and anybody with a decent taste should watch it.