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Showing 1-10 of 37 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 49 reviews
on January 18, 2014
I will probably get the blu-ray version. Already have the DVD. Best Kurosawa movie and one of Mifune's best. I have over 300 Japanese movies and this is my favorite. If you are looking for a samurai movie with a lot of fighting scenes, this isn't the movie for you. Lucas has admitted that he got the basic idea for Star Wars from this movie. The main plot is a general trying to take a princess through enemy territory to get her home with the help of two bumbling peasants. The two peasants provide most the comedy with Mifune playing a stoic samurai leader. Great movie and I highly recommend getting it.
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It surprised me when I re-watched this recently how many set pieces were in a film I didn't used to think of as flamboyant or virtuosic. But there is was, when one takes account for the smaller budgets and perhaps limited technical abilities of the time and place: the stunning dance sequence, a big horseback chase that rivals Indiana Jones, a duel between two martial arts masters that mirrors the famous one between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader in Star Wars (because Lucas copied it and much else in this film, as he himself states). The two bumbling peasants, one tall and one short, trying constantly to get ahead on others' misfortune and make a buck, also resemble R2D2 and C3PO; it's interesting to note that in earlier drafts of Star Wars C3PO was more of a hustler and R2D2 originally spoke words too. The crazy samurai, played (as usual with Kurosawa) by Toshirô Mifune, was Lucas' original choice to play Kenobi, and some aspects of his personality remained in the finished Star Wars script, most notably when Luke's Uncle comments that he's "just a crazy old wizard." The English Knight as played by Guinness hardly seems crazy, but with Mifune, the character undoubtedly would have been, because that's the kind of parts he played.

The story is similar to early drafts of Star Wars, with a touch of Phantom Menace thrown in. (Fear not, there's no Jar Jar; it's basically to do with the idea of a double for the princess so she won't be recognized.) Misa Uehara is terrific as Princess Yuki--rare for a female to be so strong in a Kurosawa film, unless she's a dark Lady Macbeth-type as in Ran and Throne of Blood. She's also, quite frankly, sexy as hell as she commands the screen, and sexuality (or even *warmth*) is one quality Lucas never got from Carrie Fischer. Takashi Shimura has only a small part, but I love anything he's in. Minoru Chiaki and Kamatari Fujiwara are the comic foils you'd expect, often poignant and sweet, but also a little grating after a while. And Toshirô Mifune is, well, Toshirô Mifune. Criterion's restoration is stunning (I used to own their DVD and believe me this is worth the upgrade), with rich scenery detail and gradated shadings of light in some scenes I'd never seen before. This is really beautifully shot and may well be Kurosawa's first widescreen film. (The director came to widescreen early and color late.) Supplements include excerpts from the superb documentary "It Is Wonderful to Create," a brief discussion of the film from George Lucas, the trailer, a beautiful booklet, and a commentary track from film historian Stephen Prince. Needless to say, if you love Kurosawa this is mandatory. If you're wondering what all the fuss is about, this movie is a good place to start. After all, it worked for a young George Lucas.
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on December 6, 2014
We all agree that 'The Hidden Fortress' is one of our favorite Kurosawa films (if not our first choice) for various reasons you'll find in the Amazon positive reviews. A few years ago we made a trip from Connecticut to Portsmouth New Hampshire to watch it in a theater to enjoy it better on a big screen. But seeing this new Blu-ray is a revelation after owning the previous Criterion DVDs and watching a good print with an audience. This restoration is the best we'll ever see so trade in your previous editions and get this one which includes a DVD version for non Blu-ray owners and looks very good as well. In addition to the older extras there's more of the Toho series about the director's films, 'It is Wonderful to Create,' found on other Criterions and now there's an excellent commentary by Stephen Prince who has contributed other Kurosawa commentaries. Fan of these films should get his book 'The Warrior's Camera.'

However I will repeat my disappointment about Criterion's Blu-ray of another Kurosawa classic 'Throne of Blood' I reviewed on Amazon: "My only complaint is that the subtitles on this black & white film are too often difficult to read and worse on the above mentioned extra 'It is Wonderful to Create' due their white letters not having wide enough black edges when shown over white or light grey backgrounds. I've seen worse on other films and this continuous problem makes for a frustrating viewing experience which lessened my understanding and therefore enjoyment of the story. I have complained on Criterion's website about the bad subtitling on their Blu-ray of Fritz Lang's 'M' and other Amazon customers have commented about this problem on other Criterion discs of black & white films. Why they continue to release films this way is a mystery. Don't the folks in charge see what we see at home or more likely what we can't see? This problem could have been corrected very easily or at least have the subtitles printed in easy-to-read yellow as I've seen on B&W films from other companies."

What's the point of Criterion issuing a great restoration with new extras and us always willing to pay more for their quality discs if we can't fully enjoy them because of bad subtitling? Even a mediocre English dub would be preferable but you won't find one here. If the subtitles were easier to read, I would rate this Criterion five stars. Anyway it's a five star classic movie in any book and a must own set for fans.

Postscript 2/9/15: So far my review earned some unhelpful votes. I don't understand why anyone would think that being warned about illegible subtitling would be unhelpful unless the voter had something to do with this disc and didn't like my comments. Other than that, I praised this edition. Go figure...
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on March 19, 2014
The movie was great, the Cast, Directing, Photography story line, a crystal clear Picture.
What more can you ask of a movie.
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on June 25, 2014
Hidden Fortress is extremely entertaining. It offers a mixture of humor, boisterous actions, and moving drama. I already owned the DVD version. But this blu ray edition is a big step up. It showcases clearly the fine details of landscapes and sets along with the expertly staged background activities. It also includes a commentary by Stephen Prince, and a behind the scene documentary which were not available on the previous Criterion DVD.
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on June 26, 2014
This is the clearest, sharpest print of this film I have seen, the new 2k scan reveals much more detail, also, the audio is much improved over the DVD release.
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on January 11, 2016
***SPOILER ALERT***
A grand scale adventure as only Akira Kurosawa could make one, The Hidden Fortress stars the inimitable Toshiro Mifune as a general charged with guarding his defeated clan's Princess (A Fierce Misa Uehars) as the two smuggle royal treasure across hostile territory, Accompanying them are a pair of bumbling, conniving , peasants who may or may not be their friends. This rip-roaring ride is among the director's most beloved Films
The Hidden Fortress delivers Kurasawa's trademark deft blend of wry humor, breathtaking action and compassionate humanity.
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on May 21, 2015
One of my favorite directors is Akira Kurosa. One of my favorite actors is Toshirô Mifune. This is an unbeatable combination. Wonderful film about a Samurai General (Mifune) protecting his princess from enemy troops.
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FIVE STARS FOR "THE HIDDEN FORTRESS" GOOD PLOT AND STORY WITH A LITTLE BIT OF COMEDY IN GLORIUS B-W I REALLY LIKE THIS MOVIE AND WOULD RECOMMEND IT TO THOSE THAT LIKE DIRECTOR , AKIRA KURSAWA IN GLORIUS B-W
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on June 1, 2016
This is where George Lucas got his ideas for "Star Wars." You have several cinema greats at work here. Among them: Akira Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune.
Mifune was Clint Eastwood, Yul Brenner and Douglas Fairbanks wrapped into one unforgettable actor. Not only will his command of character amaze you, but watch how he effortlessly leaps onto horses, rides like lightning, and sweeps the princess into his saddle with a flick of his wrist. No one ever commanded the frame and performed stunts the way Mifune did.
Believe it or not, Lucas' robots R2D2 and C3P0 are in here as a supporting pair of human characters - short and tall - bickering and floundering the same way Lucas used them decades later. The story, too, is similar.
Like "Hidden Fortress", two other Kurosawa films were later copied by great filmmakers. "The Seven Samurai" became John Sturges' "The Magnificent Seven" featuring Yul Brenner. And "Yojimbo" became Sergio Leone's "Fistful of Dollars" with Clint Eastwood. In this way, Kurosawa is the true father of the Spaghetti Western.
If you don't mind subtitles and are looking for a great classic of Japanese cinema - this is it. If you like "Hidden Fortress", try some of Kurosawa and Mifune's other great films: Rashomon, Throne of Blood (Macbeth as samurai), High and Low (Macbeth meets Wall Street), Stray Dog (great cop drama) and Yojimbo.
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