Video Picks Archive
This week my picks are Three Kings (1999 - ) and Shichinin no samurai (Seven Samurai) (1954 - ).
The first film this week was one of the best films of 1999, but was completely ignored
by all the major awards. George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, Ice Cube, and Spike Jonze
(making his acting debut here, his directing debut would come with
Being John Malkovich) star
as four soldiers who go in search of a gold stockpile at the end of the Persian Gulf War.
Once they find the gold, they also find the poor state of the Iraqi people, and choose
to help them fight against oppressive forces. David O. Russell brings his twisted
vision to Hollywood with incredible brilliance. Foremost, Three Kings is a
dark comedy (loosely based on 1970's Kelly's Heroes, set in WWII) that is well
supported by thrilling action, impressive visuals, and a real emotional heart.
Inevitably, one has to compare Three Kings to the second film, which has inspired Hollywood to create such varied films as The Magnificent Seven and A Bug's Life. Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai tells the story about a small farming community in rural Japan that is constantly harassed by raiding bandits. They hire seven unemployed samurai to defend their village from a coming attack. Leading the group is the great Takashi Shimura, who lends incredible power and integrity to his role. Stealing the show, of course, is Toshiro Mifune as a country boy who is merely posing as a samurai, but redeems himself through courage and determination (not to mention a really, really big sword). This film belongs in the echelon of such classics as Citizen Kane and Casablanca. Quite simply, it is the best action/adventure film ever made and must be seen. Make sure, however, that you see the full 203 minute version, which is now available on video.
For more information, visit the Internet Movie Database:
Three Kings (1999)
Shichinin no samurai (1954)
Guide to Star Ratings
Capsule Reviews © 2000 Matt Heffernan