'The Seven Samurai' (1954): Defend the Defenseless
A small Japanese village discovers it's to be attacked by merciless bandits. The villagers have little wealth, little food, and no realistic way of defending themselves. But the villagers, tired of their homes being pillaged year after year, elect to fight back, anyway–or, at the very least, hire some "hungry samurais" to fight for them.
And hire them they do: Seven samurai, to be precise, though a couple seem to barely qualify. The warriors make a fortress of the village and, eventually, defend it successfully—but at great loss to themselves. Four fall, three remain to fight another day. "So again, we are defeated," says samurai Kambei Shimada. "The farmers have won. Not us."
But in the paradoxical nature of martial arts movie wisdom, Kambei is wrong. For in losing, these unconnected, aimless samurai have won honor, respect, and gratitude. These warriors opted to protect folks who didn't have the means to protect themselves—a noble and glorious mission. If these martial arts movies are meant to teach us how to better ourselves, sacrificing for others (not necessarily our lives, but with our time and money too) is a fantastic way to find our best.
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