The Hidden Fortress (1958) – Ace Mini-Review

Kakushi-toride no San-akunin (The Hidden Fortress)
Starring: Mifune Toshirô, Chiaki Minoru, Fujiwara Kamatari
Written by: Kikushima Ryûzô, Oguni Hideo, Hashimoto Shinobu, Kurosawa Akira
Directed by: Kurosawa Akira
Japan, 1958

How good is this movie?

A good, old-fashioned heroic tale, with brave warriors, noble princesses, and honourable commanders. There are also two comical peasant characters, and much of the story is told through their eyes, allowing us to experience the grimier, less glorious side of war. The fight scenes are well-done, although there are only one or two of them. I appreciate the film’s optimism about human nature, even if it may seem overly idealistic. And if it went on longer than I expected, that’s only because it could have stopped short so many places and still been a satisfying watch!

How ace is this movie?

There are a few passing references to the kind of sexual exploitation women experience in wartime. Otherwise, there’s no sex or romance at all in this film. The relationship between Princess Yuki and Rokurota is occasionally flirtatious, but this could be read as a sign of friendship rather than desire. None of the men shows any romantic interest in the tavern girl they pick up, either. It’s nice to see a film where men and women interact over time, go through dangers together, and show loyalty and even affection for each other without the intrusion of a romantic sub-plot.

4 Stars; 3 Aces

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