Blu-ray Review: “Seven Warriors” Is Not A Worthy Remake

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Review by James McDonald

Seven Warriors is about seven rugged warriors who band together to protect and defend a helpless village from plundering bandits.

“Seven Warriors” is a re-imagining of Akira Kurosawa’s brilliant “Seven Samurai” and John Sturges’ “The Magnificent Seven”, itself a remake of Kurosawa’s movie, updated for Western audiences. “Seven Warriors” tells the story of a poor village, Guangxi, which has become home to desperate soldiers who have become thieves, rapists and murderers. It is set during the Warlord Era, a period in the history of the Republic of China when the country was divided amongst military cliques in the mainland regions of Sichuan, Shanxi, Qinghai, Ningxia, Guangdong, Guangxi, Gansu, Yunnan and Xinjiang. Between the village, they pour all of their money and personal belongings together in the hopes that they might be able to hire brave men who will take up arms against the marauders and save their home.

“Seven Warriors” was actually made back in 1989 and is only now getting a wide release on DVD and Blu-ray. I have to warn you though, if you plan on buying this movie on Blu-ray, don’t. Blu-ray boasts of better visuals and audio quality but here, it’s quite apparent that the studio transferred a very low-resolution copy of the movie and just put it out there for general release. The overall presentation does not fare well. Some scenes that take place in sunlight look fine but when we get to the night scenes, it’s quite obvious that they must have been too dark because the gain is turned all the way up, to try and compensate which leaves the image with a very grainy and visually distracting look. The movie itself was produced with a more humorous take than its more serious predecessors.

I don’t mind humor but here, it’s more about visual slapstick, more akin to some of the earlier films that Jackie Chan produced and after a while it becomes a big annoyance. When a character does or says something that is not very funny, suddenly the whole room erupts into gratuitous laughter, with characters smacking their knees as if it’s the funniest thing they’ve ever heard. Some of the action scenes were well choreographed but these are far and few between. There’s an attempt at a three-way love triangle and while it starts out competently enough, the filmmakers obviously don’t know the old adage, “enough is enough”. Some of the dialogue was absolutely dire, with one character exclaiming to another, “Anyone who goes against us…is dead meat!”

Overall, the film is a jumbled mess. Undoubtedly, at the time, the producers figured that someone was bound to remake Kurosawa’s film again so why not them? The film feels as though it was rushed, with characters wearing noticeably 80’s clothes accompanied by an undeniably dreadful 80’s electronic soundtrack. You’d be better off getting the Criterion Blu-ray release of “Seven Samurai” or even “The Magnificent Seven”. With either of these movies, you can’t go wrong.

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James McDonald
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