There are great films and then there are great action films. Akira Kurosawa's 1954 Seven Samurai is one of those rare works that deserves to be near the top of both lists. The action, when it comes, is indelible, as an outsized gang of roving bandits who terrorize a farming village in feudal Japan come face to face with seven ronin, or masterless samurai, who, against the odds and good judgment, defend the hamlet and its inhabitants against attack after attack--the final assault taking place in a lashing downpour. Kurosawa not only frames the swordplay with thrilling verve, he keeps the viewer mindful of the lay of the land and the number of bandits left standing so that each clash stands out and, better still, matters. The action takes up a relatively minor portion of the film's three-hours-plus running time, though, as Kurosawa contrasts the samurai (including Kurosawa regulars Takashi Shimura as the sage leader and Toshiro Mifune as a blustering warrior wannabe) who risk their lives for a few bowls of rice and their honor with the rabbity villagers, who have to be coaxed into courageousness. Yet, famously, the villagers "win" in the end. Seven Samurai is one of those classics whose influence is so pervasive and whose status is so assured that people tend to gloss over just how groundbreaking it was, and how good it is still. But it was, and it is.