Jacob Martin (formally known as The Movie King)’s review published on Letterboxd:
The Hidden Fortress, one of Akira Kirosawa's most famous movies, is often noted as being one of the features that greatly influenced Star Wars, especially the way the droid characters were written and presented in the story, based on the peasant characters in this movie as the comical goofballs with little knowledge of what's actually going on. You also get a glimpse here of the beginning stages of both Obi-Wan and Princess Leia with this movie's samurai general and princess characters, respectively. Also worth noting is, strangely, the plot of the samurai dedicating to protecting royalty at all cost was a major influence in the plot of The Phantom Menace, one of the most polarizing films in the Star Wars canon, which is an interesting comparison.
But even with all the things that inspired one of my favorite film franchises of all-time, you can still enjoy The Hidden Fortress as a stand-alone movie, even with no knowledge or connection with Star Wars. It's that good, people. The way Kirosawa frames every shot is a stroke of genius, and crafts an epic samurai fable that not only entertains, but is also a stunning look loyalty and the risk of ending it all for the things you love.
Seven Samurai is a good movie, and I admire it greatly, but I related and cared more about the characters in The Hidden Fortress more, and because of that, I think this is the stronger movie. Akira shows here that he can compete with both David Lean and John Ford at masterfully creating a visually luscious epic despite being of a different nationality. This movie's excellent, mixing action, drama, and even comedy and executing it to the max, all the characters are memorable and have an archetypical arc, and whether you simply want to watch it to see where Star Wars got its influence or just want to see a well-crafted movie from Japan, it's still has all its perks and definitely deserves its status as part of The Criterion Collection.