Seven Samurai and The Hidden Fortress any good?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Jeff Adams, Aug 30, 2002.

  1. Jeff Adams

    Jeff Adams Screenwriter

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    Over the past couple of days I have read a little bit about Akira Kurosawa and his 2 masterpiece movies Seven Samurai and Hidden Fortress. I have also seen those movies pop up here and there on this site but never paid much attetntion to it. What type of movies are these? What genre? Martial arts? Drama? Action? Obviously Seven Samurai has martial arts in it, but is the stoy line good? I like martial art movies, in fact one of my favorite movies of all time is Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. How would you compare that to these? Thanks for any opinions as I always like to get into new stuff that is worth it. Someone here told me to go out and by a Group called Steely Dan on dvd-audio about a year ago. I never heard of them but now they are one of my favorite groups and have 4 more titles.
     
  2. Seth Paxton

    Seth Paxton Lead Actor

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  3. Matt Pelham

    Matt Pelham Screenwriter

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    I absolutely love the Seven Samurai, but I wouldn't even put it anywhere close to Crouching Tiger. Seven Samurai is a character movie with some great action, but nowhere near the in your face wire ballet of some recent matial arts films. I give it my highest recommendation.
     
  4. Matt Stone

    Matt Stone Lead Actor

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    My personal opinion is that Seven Samurai is leaps and bounds above CTHD, but that might be a taste issue. Either way, you should give it a shot. I had never been into Samurai movies, but decided to start renting the works of Kurosawa a few months ago (thanks in part to the urging of Seth)...and I'm hooked now.
     
  5. Jim_K

    Jim_K Executive Producer

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    Kurosawa's Samurai films aren't really comparable to CTHD (which I do like quite a bit).
    Seth already covered quite a few points but I'll throw in my 2 cents.
    All of Kurosawa's Samurai films are fantastic. If you're looking for Action/Adventure you should check out these in order:
    1. Seven Samurai - his masterpiece
    2. Yojimbo - The Pulp Fiction of Samurai films [​IMG]
    3. Sanjuro - sequel to Yojimbo
    4. Hidden Fortress - Not his best but a fantastic light-hearted adventure.
    For his more drama/epic Samurai films:
    1. Throne of Blood - not on DVD
    2. Ran - current DVD is awful
    3. Rashomon - Criterion DVD highly recommended
    4. Kagemusha - not on DVD
     
  6. Michael Taylor

    Michael Taylor Stunt Coordinator

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    Seven Samurai is in my top 3 favorite films of all time. The characters are well drawn out, the emotionally moving story is engaging with humor, drama, action, and even a small love story in there. In short, it has it all. What blows me away, is that the arrows that you see people shot with, were *not* guided by anything more than the well-trained marksmenship of a surehanded archer. According to the commentary, Japanese cinema employed archers who actually shot arrows at the actors, who wore blocks of wood under their costumes. That totally blew my mind when I heard that.

    As far as Hidden Fortress, while the performance by Toshiro Mifune is excellent, as always, the story was merely OK, in my opinion. I liked watching it to see if I could recognize any thing that was reflected in Star Wars, but I haven't watched this one more than once. Maybe it gets better the more you watch it, like Seven Samurai.

    Just my $0.02
     
  7. JonZ

    JonZ Lead Actor

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    There is no comparison between Seven Samurai and CTHD.
    Seven Samurai is one of the most fantastic films ever made.Its # 5 on my all time favorite list.
    Ahead of Hidden Fortress I would recommend Roshomon(the plot for this film has been reused lots of times, but never as well), Yojimbo(the inspiration for Fist Full of Dollars) and especially Ran(retelling of King Lear in fuedal Japan).
    Heres a review from Digital Bits for you http://www.thedigitalbits.com/reviews/sevensamurai.html
    If its great martial arts your after, of course Bruce Lee was the best, but also try the Shaw Brothers flicks:
    These are my favorites(theyre available on DVD):
    5 Deadly Venoms
    Avenging Eagle
    Unbeatable Shoalin
     
  8. Tommy G

    Tommy G Screenwriter

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    You take my favorite decade for movies (the 50's) and quite possibly my favorite movie of that decade (Seven Samurai) and you have what amounts to one of the greatest movies of all time. The Hidden Fortress is not in the same class as Seven Samurai but nonetheless is still a good flick. If you have seen the Magnificent Seven, you have essentially seen the Westernized version of Seven Samurai to a certain extent.
     
  9. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    Well Seth, once again you type more quickly than me. [​IMG]
    I think that Ran is set in the 16th centaury, but I may be misremembering. I think that I’ve read in another thread in HTF, that a new DVD, with a better transfer is about to be released. We can but hope.
    Jeff, this would be another to check out. It has some outstanding, mass battle pieces. Based, as Seth indicates, on King Lear, it can be viewed either as a straight action, entertainment piece, or as a ‘serious’ film. Or both.
    Have fun.
     
  10. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    I too love both Seven Samurai and CTHD, but agree that they cannot be compared...nor do I think they meant to be (if you ask Ang Lee, I'm pretty sure he'd say 'no').

    Seven Samurai is in my top 10 list of all time greatest films. I like The Hidden Fortress seemingly more than some others who've chimed in, putting it in the top half of Kurosawa's films. Rashomon is just a great example of excellent filmmaking that was ahead of its time. Yojimbo/Sanjuro are great too.

    But don't go into these films expecting something similar to what you're seeing in Hong Kong cinema, it's not going to happen.
     
  11. Michael Taylor

    Michael Taylor Stunt Coordinator

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  12. Jeff Adams

    Jeff Adams Screenwriter

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    Alright, you guys have convinced me. I am going to lunch now and will look for Seven Samurai while I am out. Thank you so much for your opinions. I will let you know what I think of it.
     
  13. Scott Leopold

    Scott Leopold Supporting Actor

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  14. Michael Taylor

    Michael Taylor Stunt Coordinator

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    I agree with your sentiments about how much Lucas was "inspired by" The Hidden Fortress. I think he was inspired by the two bumbling idiots and turned them into C-3PO and R2-D2. The princess idea seemed like an potential influence, but I honestly couldn't see a many other similarities between SW and THF. If any of you guys have other examples, I would like to hear them. In fact, I will probably have to watch this one again this holiday weekend. I hope I like it better than I remember.

     
  15. Rich Malloy

    Rich Malloy Producer

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    Seven Samurai - one of the greatest films
    Hidden Fortress - definitely worth a rental
     
  16. John Spencer

    John Spencer Supporting Actor

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    Toshiro Mifune is one of my favorite actors ever. Anything he was in is just that much better for his presence. When you add that to the work of an amazing director like Akira Kurosawa, you are sure to at the least be entertained. I would also agree that Hidden Fortress is one of Kurosawa's more "accessible" works. That doesn't mean it's not good, but it is more of a straight pulp-style adventure story than most of his other works.

    I have a hard time choosing a favorite between High and Low and Seven Samurai. Both ar just so well done.
     
  17. Seth Paxton

    Seth Paxton Lead Actor

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    Jeff,
    from your Tombstone sig you might really like Kurosawa. Many of his samurai films are simply American westerns set in Japan. He was a HUGE fan of John Ford and his westerns, and thus imitated his style (and developed his own unique one). That's why the two translations (Mag 7 and Fistful) were naturally done as westerns when put in an American setting.
    Think westerns for his period pieces. Now Ikuru and High and Low are a whole different thing, and as I said, 2 of his finest pieces and perfect examples of HIS style of filmmaking. It's easier to see his style with those films since they are more comparable to the works of more familiar western filmmakers. I mean you can compare crime drama to crime drama pretty easily.
    BTW, on the police procedural thing, there are 2 films to see. One is High and Low and the other is M by Fritz Lang. Both are trend setters and excellent in their own right even by today's standards I would say.
     
  18. Seth Paxton

    Seth Paxton Lead Actor

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  19. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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  20. Doug D

    Doug D Stunt Coordinator

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    personally, I'd recommend a Kurosawa newbie start with YOJIMBO: action packed, entertaining, and something like half the length of THE SEVEN SAMURAI. Not that SAMURAI isn't a great film, but it might be a smoother transition from the world of CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON.

    THE HIDDEN FORTRESS is probably my least favorite Kurosawa that I've seen (except for DREAMS, although I need to revisit that one). It's still pretty good, but nowhere near YOJIMBO, SANJURO, HIGH AND LOW, RAN, THRONE OF BLOOD, SEVEN SAMURAI, etc.

    My absolute favorite Kurosawa is IKIRU, which has nothing resembling samurai in it, but is a heartbreakingly wonderful film.
     

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