Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa's The Seven Samurai (1954) is westernized as The Magnificent Seven. Yul Brynner plays Chris, a mercenary hired to protect a Mexican farming village from its annual invasion by bandit Calvera (Eli Wallach). As Elmer Bernstein's unforgettable theme music (later immortalized as the "Marlboro Man" leitmotif) blasts away in the background, Chris rounds up six fellow soldiers of fortune to help him form a united front against the bandits. The remaining "magnificent six" are played by Charles Bronson, Steve McQueen, Horst Buchholz, Robert Vaughn, James Coburn, and (the one that everybody forgets) Brad Dexter. Though jam-packed with action, William Roberts's screenplay pauses long enough to flesh out each of its characters, allowing the audience to pick their own favorites. The Magnificent Seven was followed by three sequels, not to mention dozens of imitations. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
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This one stands alongside High Noon, The Searchers, The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly, and a scant few others as a definitive western classic. This is the kind of movie that you find yourself reciting dialog with - try to match McQueen's delivery on "We deal in lead, friend." Yes, it's dated, and yes, it doesn't have the complexity of Unforgiven or Dances With Wolves, but this is the classic Hollywood western at its finest -- memorable dialog, great characterization, and thrills to make you feel like a kid again.
No doubt that this is one of the classics of the genre. With McQueen, Brenner, Bronson and Coburn and a plot lifted from one of the greatest movies of all time, you'd have to be trying pretty hard to mess it up.
As good as it is, though, it is just an imitation. Seven Samurai is such a more subtle and nuanced movie, with spectacular lead performances and much better supporting cast. Plus, katanas make for cooler fight scenes than Colts. See 'em both.
This isn't your standard cowboys-and-indians western. It's got heart, and there's no ambiguity about who are the good guys and who are the bad guys. The action and photography are great, and of course no CGI or other special effects for this nearly half-century-old film. There is some controversy as to whether someone should watch Seven Samurai first or Maginficent Seven, since the latter was a western based on the former. I saw this one first but now would have preferred it the other way around. Though it was fun seeing many parts of the Magnificent Seven in the Seven Samurai, it was hard going from the relatively fast-paced gun fights to the relatively slow-paced sword fights. I would recommend watching the Seven Samurai first, but in any case, if you watch one you'll probably want to watch both.