By introducing comedy into the mixture and telling the tale from an atypical perspective, Kurosawa has differentiated The Hidden Fortress from nearly every similar feudal era Japanese epic ever committed to the screen. This is a masterpiece.
Kurosawa was drawing influence from American directors like John Ford, so its an enjoyable film, but sometimes the movies that influenced a generation of filmmakers lose some of their luster because they've been borrowed from so many times.
The play of light and dark elements in what's arguably Akira Kurosawa's most broadly appealing and entertaining picture...explores a dichotomy of the idiocy of greed and the rewards of sacrifice. [Criterion Blu-ray]