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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Samurai Road Warrior

So I was watching "The Road Warrior" for the millionth time when I came to the realization that this movie (and the other two Max films) was just another samurai movie along the same lines of Kurosawa and Mifune. Or maybe, like all movies, it just shares similar aspects (No - let's say it's a samurai film; I like it better that way :)

The evidence
In "Mad Max," Max Rockatansky begins as a "retainer" for the Main Force Patrol, but leaves when he can no longer abide by the clan's rules -- though, really, it's because he simply becomes "mad" ("Sword of Doom"?). He becomes the wandering "ronin" who roams a wasteland that has been ravaged by war and is full of malcontents, bandits, murderers and their prey.

In "The Road Warrior," our hungry ronin finds a village in need of help, so he offers his aid  ("Seven Samurai.") He's in it for his own gain, but his actions will eventually reveal he still has a loving heart buried beneath all the violence (Kuwabatake Sanjuro in "Yojimbo.")

Though his part is a diversion, Max helps the village sneak it's gasoline (the Akizuki gold) across the land while being pursued by many enemies ("The Hidden Fortress.")
We could continue with "Beyond Thunderdome," where he plays two factions within the town against each other. He is eventually captured and punished, but soon after, recuperates and returns to finish the job ("Yojimbo.")

Maybe this is why I enjoy "The Road Warrior" so much. It all seems so obvious now.
And maybe this is why my favorite miniatures are my post-apocalyptic warriors and samurai.


  1. They do say there are only 7 plots! Or something like that...


  2. You did all that without using the word "Redemption" once.

  3. I would also add in the Eastwood/Leone films which are almost scene for scene lifted from those classic Samurai movies. Not to mention Magnificent Seven. But I never thought about the Mad Max franchise before. I think you're right.

  4. How do you feel about Westerns? Some pretty strong parallels there as well.


  5. Oh yes- plenty pf parallels (and straight-up remakes.)
    I guess my point should have been that I didn't expect "The Road Warrior" also to echo so many aspects of a good classic samurai film.

    Interesting enough, I'm not really a fan of the western remakes (Magnificent 7, Fistful of Dollars ...) Though, this may be because I saw the samurai film versions first. But I still enjoy a good western. My favorites are the newer True Grit, Open Range and High Plains Drifter.

    1. Would it work in reverse ? Could those three Westerns make decent Samurai films ?

    2. Hmm, I don't know. Open Range wouldn't work unless you add more modern values to allow our samurai to interact with the common folk. That, and there weren't a lot of samurai herders:)

      True Grit maybe; ronin seeking review against bandits on the behalf of a peasant?

      High Plains Drifter might be like a more vicious Yojimbo, in which our anti-hero plays the sides of a town against each other all the way to destruction (granted High Plains Drifter was the townsfolk against returning prisoners.)

      So, I'm not sure those would work as samurai flicks.

    3. On second thought, I think Open Range could work:
      A small group of close-knit(?) ronin (so not free-grazers) passes near a town whose leaders don't take kindly to them. A ronin visits town to try to get food and is killed by some town otakadate. The remaining ronin plan out their revenge, leading up to the inevitable conclusion.

      So yes on "Open Range."
      Now, I want to see that movie (the samurai version of Open Range)

  6. Might have to see if anyone has a copy of Open Range I can borrow :)

    1. Unforgiven is also another one I enjoy; I only being it up because someone over at The Miniatures Page just posted this:

    2. Open Range is not for everyone; it's verrrry slow, but holds plenty of tension as it builds up to great climax. 3 hours long, but I still watch it repeatedly.

      I would compare it to Hari Kiri. Not necessarily the same plots, but the both seem to build up at the same speed with the same tension until the climactic fight of few vs. many.