99. "Seven Samurai
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Like many, I can thank George Lucas for my love of Akira
Kurosawa movies. When Lucas mentioned that his 1977 science fiction hit "Star Wars" was inspired by the Japanese master's
works, I immediately sought out every one of them I could find.
But as terrific as his award-winning films "Rashomon" (1950) and "Ran" (1985) were and are, it's
Kurosawa's much-discussed redemption tale that really endures and still thrills
and amazes today. The plot is deceptively simple: A group of samurai are hired
to protect a village that has been robbed and victimized by bandits.
Video: Watch scenes from 'Seven Samurai' |
Epic action-thriller films tend to favor character in favor of action, or
vice versa. Not this film, which has plenty of battle scenes, drama and comedy
(longtime Kurosawa collaborator Toshiro Mifune gets most of the laughs). It's no
wonder that Hollywood was inspired to make like-minded, English-language
versions, such as "The Magnificent Seven" (1960).
By the way, there are two versions of the film in circulation: a 150-minute
cut and the restored, 207-minute one. While some "director's cuts" can be
bloated -- we're looking at you, "Dances With Wolves" (1990) -- "Seven Samurai" is even better in its longer form.
— Jeff Michael Vice (Toshiro Mifune in "Seven Samurai"/Courtesy
Everett Collection/Rex Features)