Category Archives: toshiro mifume

Red Sun

Red Sun ~ I got turned on to this one eavesdropping on Twitter. I follow comic book writer Andy Diggle on Twitter and someone had hipped him to it. Just imagine it, a movie with Charles Bronson as a gunslinger and Toshiro Mifune as a samurai in the old west. Add in Ursula Andress, Alain Delon, music by Maurice Jarre, and direction by Terence Young – and you have Red Sun. I had to see this. How could I lose?

Also known as Soleil Rouge, the flick has Mifune as a Japanese samurai in the old West, carrying an ancient sword for the US President, which is stolen during a train robbery. Mifune teams with Bronson, one of the robbers betrayed during the heist, to get the sword back. A samurai, a cowboy, a western and a buddy movie, all with a brilliant cast and spellbinding music. I’m sold.

The film turns out to be everything I could have wished for. All the actors are perfect in this international amalgam. I don’t think I could have had more fun watching this. For once, a film that achieves everything it promises to be – a gritty western with amazing actors from all parts of the world. Great flick.

The Hidden Fortress

“SO WHERE’S THE FORCE?”

A Video Review of The Hidden Fortress (1958)

Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker

Kakushi toride No San Akunin or The Hidden Fortress, as it is known in the United States, has long been touted as the inspiration for Star Wars. Having recently seen it I gotta say I have my doubts. To paraphrase that annoying old pitch woman for Wendy’s – “Where’s the Force?”

This samurai tale of a war hero trying to save his princess by using two farmers going home after being enslaved as a cover is pretty standard fair for the Japanese cinema at the time and only elevated by the direction of the master Akira Kurosawa and the always superior performance of Toshiro Mifume but Star Wars it ain’t.

There are similarities storywise, two bumblers, a rogue and a rescued princess but it ends there. The Hidden Fortress lacks a Luke Skywalker character who George Lucas freely admits is a product of ‘the hero’s journey’ postulated by Joseph Campbell I still find it hard to believe Lucas outfitted the rest of his cast from this film. While the relationship of the two farmers bears a slight resemblance to the antics of R2-D2 and C3PO so do Laurel and Hardy from most of their work.

The Hidden Fortress is an enjoyable two hours plus of vintage samurai cinema but Star Wars it ain’t.