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Seven Samurai: BFI Top 100 2012 RRP 19.99
Seven warriors defend a village from ferocious bandits in Kurosawa's gripping masterpiece. Remade as The Magnificent Seven and later providing the inspiration for the smash hit, A Bug's Life, it features extraordinarily vivid battle sequences, plenty of unexpected humour and enough nail-biting tension to make your manicurist weep. In turns explosive and thought provoking, this is the kind of epic that Sunday afternoons were made for.
The movie was directed by Akira Kurosawa, one of those rare Japanese directors that most people in the UK have actually heard of. Although directors like Kinugasa and Horikawa are critically acclaimed in their own country their work travels about as well as a Kamikaze pilot. Kurosawa's works, however, are perfect for the global market, with their blend of action, humour and slow burning tension; the universality of his genius has led to many modern American film-makers (including George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, and Francis Ford Coppola) acknowledging the Sensei Of Cinema as a major influence on their work.
There's a compelling resonance in his plots which lend themselves to Western remakes - aside from Seven Samurai, Rashomon was remade as The Outrage and Sergio Leone plundered Yojimbo and emerged with A Fistful of Dollars. But the originals, as they say, are still the best. Aside from Seven Samurai, Rashomon and Yojimbo, the following Kurosawa titles are available from the BFI: Throne of Blood, The Bad Sleep Well, Drunken Angel, Ikiru, Sanjuro, Hidden Fortress and I Live in Fear.
Amusing, vivid, violent and hugely entertaining, they represent, for many, the very best of Japanese cinema.