Life Changing Movies: Seven Samurai


So I was perusing Facebook today, as you do, and I came across a wonderful little nugget of information on the site’s feature of showing you things you posted on this day, over the years. Among a bunch of fairly inconsequential flashbacks, I saw this:


Yes, five years ago today, at approximately 6:55 a.m., I finished watching a life changing movie: Seven Samurai.

So what is a “life changing movie” to a) address the wanky term, and b) further annoy Ian by using the word movie instead of “film”? Well, a life changing movie is a film that typically leaves me dumbfounded and/or moved as the credits roll, trying to process what I’ve just seen and how it affects my outlook on life. Seven Samurai ticked all those boxes, as I lay in bed at nearly 7 a.m. on October 21st 2011, wondering how I would get through my shift at work later that day, and also if I could ever make a film that good.

Spoilers: I can’t, and nor will I ever, but that’s okay. Seven Samurai completely opened my eyes to the seemingly never ending supply of great movies that history has to offer us, if we only make the effort to look for them. Made and released in Japan in 1954, Seven Samurai was one of many films from legendary filmmaker Akira Kurosawa, another excellent movie in a string of classics he was pumping out, particularly in the 50s and 60s.

I’d vaguely heard of the film before, maybe from my dad who is a big fan of it, and I definitely remember reading about it in the TV guide one day in my youth and being mildly intrigued, but clearly not enough to watch a three hour film (and in black and white no less, yuck!)

I can’t remember what quite spurred me on to watch it in 2011, with a little help from my friendly uncle Don Load. At just under three hours it was quite an undertaking to watch, especially as I had chosen 3 a.m. to start this cinematic epic. I probably figured I’d get bored and just drift off to sleep, and while I did nod off occasionally, I was anything but bored. In fact, going against my usual “I’m sure I didn’t miss anything important” mentality when it comes to nodding off during films, I would jolt awake and rewind to make sure I was getting everything.

The story is set in feudal era Japan, and focuses on a quaint village that’s visited regularly by bandits, who take a sizable cut of their harvest in exchange for not attacking them. The villagers, driven mad with anger at the fear that has become instilled within them, and their shortage of food, decide they’re going to fight back. However they’re too cowardly to do it themselves, so the elder of the village sends a group into a nearby town to hire a group of samurai to protect them.


Setting up the samurai characters, mostly ronins, wandering samurai with no masters, takes about a full hour of the film itself, and I love that. The pace is slow but it never drags, as the characters are fully realised, with their own motives for taking up the cause, and their own histories as baggage. We then see the samurai attempt to prepare the villagers for battle when the bandits return, and close out with the battle itself, which takes days and probably another full hour of the film’s lengthy running time.

Rich with Kurosawa’s masterful control of the frame, in gorgeous black and white, the film has such an energy. Whether it comes from the powerhouse performance of Toshiro Mifune (one of my all time favourite actors) as the wild Kikuchiyo, the movement of the camera, the stillness of a moment where a character meets his maker in dreamy slow motion (not used much at the time), the rousing score or Takashi Shimura’s calm yet commanding portrayal of the unspoken leader of the samurai, Kambei. And it’s funny too. I’ll take Toshiro Mifune getting wide eyed with glee when the women come out to harvest over any modern comedy film for a laugh or two. On every conceivable level, the film just excels.

Toshiro Mifune as Kikuchyio
Toshiro Mifune as Kikuchiyo

It changed my life because it lead me to watching other Kurosawa films, which lead me to watching more foreign films, which broadened my horizons greatly and now I can consider pretty much any film from any genre, era or country interesting (within reason). This is something I couldn’t have said five years ago, and if my aspirations of making my own films are to really come to fruition, then I truly believe it will be because of the films I’ve attempted to educate myself with. Films I would have never given a second thought if Seven Samurai hadn’t broken down the door of ignorance in the corner of my brain that dedicates itself to my love of movies.

It also has presented me with one of the best kinds of goals. An unachievable one. I would love to make a film that suspends someone’s disbelief as much as I can mine with Seven Samurai. What I mean is, if it weren’t for the fact that Seven Samurai features many great Japanese actors, who I’ve watched and enjoyed in dozens of other films, I could probably believe that Seven Samurai was actually a four hundred year old movie.

The level of authenticity that is achieved with Seven Samurai is astounding to me, and the fantastical idea of Akira Kurosawa finding this lost film that was made in 1586, and passed it off as his own, is almost plausible. I believe every frame of the film when it comes to the setting and the characters, from the set design to the costumes, the way the actors embody their roles and the long drawn out battle that is the antithesis of a typical movie action scene.

Of course, the film isn’t perfect, no film is, but I still hold it up as the best film I’ve ever seen. Every time I watch it, it’s an event, and I remember it well. The first time I watched it was the only time I’ve ever seen it alone, as I always strive to pass on the experience to someone else, or make it as memorable as the film deserves. I can’t just pop it on any old day, I need to plan towards it, or have a damn good reason to give either of my two Blu-ray copies a spin.

The second time I watched it, I introduced it to my fiancee Connie. I could never be totally sure how much she really enjoyed it, but by this time I had imported the American Blu-ray version, which boasts the full 207 minute restored cut of the film, so she had sat through three and a half hours and not wanted to kill me. This was before she really started to embrace watching older films as well. We chronicled the experience in the below video.

The third time I watched it in Norway, where I had just recently moved, at the same time as my YouTube friend Matt, who was watching at home in the UK. We chatted intermittently throughout the film during his first time viewing and it was a cool way to share the experience. The fourth time I watched it with my mum, in an interesting double bill, in which she showed me The Magnificent Seven (the excellent US remake of Seven Samurai) and I showed her Seven Samurai. We enjoyed noticing all the similarities between the samurai and gunslinger characters from each version, and getting to share my love with the film with my mum was great.

The fifth time was much the same as the third, simultaneously watching with a YouTube friend, this time while on Skype with CP, who watched the film for the first time over in New York. Whereas Matt was somewhat of an Asian cinema aficionado, CP, as he sometimes puts it, “struggles to get into anything made pre-1970.” He ended up really enjoying the film, conceding that it was “quite alright,” a quote I will tease him with forever. I’m still hoping to somehow rope my dad into sitting down long enough to watch it with me, but that’s a work in progress.


Seven Samurai also changed my life as it made me realise something quite important. Up until that point, the only films that I really loved, films that gave me so much pleasure from watching, were all genre films. Science fiction, fantasy, action, films with very specific goals in entertaining their audiences. Those films are still fine, and can still be great, but Seven Samurai showed me how a film that simply tells you a great story, with great characters, regardless of the setting, language or age of the movie, can be just as rewatchable, enjoyable, and entertaining. Nor are they just “slow paced foreign films.”

As a result I have found countless other films that give me the same kind of joy, that aren’t Back to the Future or Aliens (as brilliant as those films are.) Other films that give me inspiration for my own ideas for stories, whether they come to life through a novel or a film I’ll probably never get made. I’ll keep on chasing the endless dream and goal, of making a film as believable, disbelief suspending, entertaining, and everlasting, as Seven Samurai. I fully expect to never reach that goal, but it’ll be fun trying.

P.S. If you’re reading this and have never seen the film, don’t be shy, hit me up, and I’ll bring it over sometime.

P.P.S Here’s my “review” of the film, about sixteen hours after I had first watched it, for posterity.


24 Hour Movie Marathon II: 24 Hours of Movies – 16th to 19th March 2013

16th – 19th March 2013

24 Hour Movie Marathon II: 24 Hours of Movies

My first feature length “vlogumentary” clocking in at almost one hour and forty five minutes, chronicling mine and Connie’s efforts to marathon 24 hours worth of films over a four day period. The initial challenge set down by YouTuber Ryan Chattaway in 2012 was to watch films for 24 hours straight, but we not so much tweaked as we did bend the rules until they snapped, and enjoyed a long, loooong weekend watching films. It was great.

And my worries that my YouTube audience wouldn’t take too kindly to the length of the video were soon washed away with the overwhelmingly positive response, which has lead to my now annual 24 Hour Movie Marathon video becoming the most popular event on my channel every year.


Well, well, well – 19th October 2016

So, my last post here was on February of 2013. 2013.

2013 Luke.
2013 Luke.

It got me thinking, back to when I was just about to move out for the first time, to move to a different country, and how much has changed since then. It would be fun to travel back to February 2013 Luke and tell him that in the space of three years he’d be going on to travel to America, attend a WrestleMania, see David Gilmour play live, write a book, finally lose all that weight, discover movies that would change his life, finally cut his hair short (and keep it that way to the point of long hair seeming odd), get paid to make videos about movies, have over a million people see those videos, and a plethora of other things.

A lot can change in a week. In three years things can become almost unrecognisable. While the changes in my life aren’t quite that drastic, it’s still quite odd to think every now and again how crazy it is that I’ve been living in Norway for over three years. This game could go on forever though, with thousands of variables, as I imagine myself reassuring 2007 Luke that in a couple of years my life would begin to completely change and to hang on in there. Or prompting 1996 Luke to ask that girl out, otherwise she would fade away completely. Or pushing 2003 Luke to just lean fucking forward and listen otherwise he’ll regret it forever.

Anyway. Hm.

Back in 2013 I had a vlogging channel, which I since abandoned, but have continued vlogging alongside all of my regular movie content on my YouTube profile RazorwireReviews. I even coined the term “vlogumentary” a couple of months after abandoning this blog, to fit my more elaborate, feature length event videos like the 24 Hour Movie Marathon, which take about as much effort as a film to make, but are essentially a long form vlog.

Part of me would love to get back to writing here, but hey, as Han Solo once said with a sly grin “it’s me.” I will endeavour to use this site for at least something and start logging entries for all of my vlogs, which will result in an absolute clusterfuck of a timeline, but I can catergorise them for easy access through this site which will be handy. I will probably include anything that is vlog-like, including the “vlogumentaries” and who knows, maybe I’ll pop back with written posts here and there.

I plan to finish off my novel Messages from Dad (coming to a book store near you in 2027) in November, so maybe I could even warm up my writing muscles by going back to some of those said key events over the past three years and write about them. I could fill a whole book with the US trip no doubt. Which also had a series of vlogs. Which I will also log here.

2016 Luke.
2016 Luke.

Well, well, well. I think that’s all for now. Just remember, wherever you go… there you are.


Wrote to 10 Hours The Last of Us Remastered Menu Music.

Vlogs Over Blogs – 10th February 2013

So every vlog I make on YouTube, ends with a link to this blog. Only I haven’t used this blog in over a month, yet I’ve recorded a vlog for every day of 2013 so far. I guess this means, for the time being, vlogs>blogs. And why is that? Well, it’s easier. Most of my vlogs are very stream of consciousness, talking about such utterly inconsequential things that on more than one occasion I have found myself becoming bored of what I’m even saying. Man that was a long sentence. Anyway, Norway soon. Just had my little bro Tommy over for a night and day, we went to see Wreck It Ralph, it was great. I’ve now updated the YouTube tab on the header of this site to link to my YouTube vlog channel. I’ve also added a menu bar to take you to my film production company, where my latest film has just been released.



New Year, Same Me – 5th January 2013

It’s officially been 6 months and one, single, solitary day, since I last posted a blog here. Will I re-focus my efforts as a textbook “New Years Resolution”? No, probably not. I’ve got far too many things on my plate. I would apologise, but lets be realistic. The main bulk of reading on this blog site is done with my own eyes. It’s nice to look back and reflect, but I’ve found videos to be a quicker and easier way of doing that. I really was enjoying the blog writing when I kick started this new one off, but I always ends up feeling like there’s so much more to do.

Creatively, I feel smothered. I have books I want to write, films I want to make, graphics I want to design, videos I want to make for YouTube, archiving projects I want to complete, films I want to watch, TV shows I want to watch, books I want to read. Ok so maybe the last few weren’t exactly creative outlets but they do spur on my motivation. A good movie always sparks my interest in making my own masterpiece one day. I know there’s one in there somewhere. Whether I’ll manage to find it or not remains to be seen.

I have a set of “goals” for the year, and plan to contribute to one of them at least once a day. They are:

– Print a physical copy of my 2010 novel In The Flesh

– Write a new book that I will try to self publish

– Make a new film

– Complete the WCWe Documentary

– Attempt to regain my Herculean 13 year old physique

– Complete the No Stairway! Collection project

– Watch every Blu-ray I own

– Plan and prepare a LEJOG bike ride for 2014

– Watch every Akira Kurosawa film

– Watch more movies that I’ve never seen

– Make a video every day(partly to push myself into completing said goals)

So far I’ve been blasting away at the No Stairway! Collection project. A set of DVDs of all my old(and new) films, with extras, commentaries etc. The main bulk of time is coming from capturing stuff from VHS to DVD to laptop etc. Great fun though and funny to watch back also. I’m sticking to the goal of making a vlog or random video every day for this whole year, not including my main YouTube review channel. Yep, lot to do, but if I do it, I’ll somehow feel like my time here isn’t as wasted as it probably is.

Look out for the next blog post in many, many months. I’m moving to Norway in February. Eek!

Twenty Four – 4th July 2012

So, we all knew this was gonna happen. Or at least I knew this was going to happen. Many months without blogging. Well I’ve been falling behind on vlogging too, which I was so regularly into. I’ve tried to keep up but with work and the huge amount of video content I’m putting out on my main YouTube channel, it’s hard to find the time and motivation. I need to keep watching films as we’re in the final 2 weeks of the Epic Film Challenge. In 12 days 20 films need to be watched and reviewed to reach that elusive Episode #365 by the 20th July this year. It’s been a blast and for episode #300 I made a super cool music video showing clips from all the films we’d watching from episode #151 to episode #300. It all ended in a mini Marvel marathon as we reviewed the Spiderman Trilogy, almost all of the Avengers lead in films and then The Avengers itself. Which really, really, ruled.

Of course I’m sat here at 4am(when else?) writing this and even contemplating just continuing this tomorrow(later on today). Tomorrow, or to my body clock, in two days, it will be my birthday. Which marks the start of six days off and the day after that me and Connie will be going to Manchester. We will be visiting one of my best friends(of which there are few) Alex and hopefully having some fun for a few days. She surprised me with the trip as my birthday present and just couldn’t keep the secret for long so told me last Wednesday, a full week before my birthday itself. I could tell she was dying to tell me ever since she must have decided. It was when her sister Siv was visiting Wales from Norway a few weeks ago(which was fun, and cool to see her after such a long time), that she said to me “I’ve got you part of your birthday present, and Siv knows what it is, so -don’t- try to get it out of her, and don’t try to push it out of me either.” I then literally pushed her and after laughing she said “I’m serious!” to which I said “I don’t want to know if its a surprise, you’re the one who’s ‘pushing’ it.”

She wanted to tell me more than I wanted to know about it. Which isn’t altogether that unusual as we’re both so impatient and excited  when it comes to giving each other gifts and surprises. This is where I went to sleep and it is now 24 hours later, at 01:19AM on the 4th July, my birthday.

So I am now 24. Yup. Look at that mug. I’m getting older, one year closer to death and halfway to 48. Can you believe it. The future holds a move to Norway this year and I’ll write about that at another time I think. I feel like there’s just so much to write about and I don’t even want to get started. In May I went to the Greek island of Kos for a week to attend my Dad’s wedding, which was awesome and I was so glad to be able to go. It was a great holiday too, at the 5 star all inclusive Blue Lagoon Resort. It was my first and hopefully not last taste of all inclusive-ness. It was more than anything a great week spent with family I rarely see. I could write about that week for a long time.

Plans for this summer include a return to filmmaking as I attempt to make Misplaced. A film I made in 2004 was called Misplaced and this one is strongly linked though it is neither a sequel or a remake(as I had originally wanted to do). It’s more of a meta film and I’m really excited to sink my teeth into it. It’s daunting as I’ll be on screen for around 99.9% of the time but it’s gonna be a great challenge.

Of course I forgot to mention how Connie told me about the trip to Manchester this week. It was awesome and so…”Connie”. She drew me a multi-panel comic book of her keeping it a secret until we got on the bus, almost as a happy medium considering she wanted to tell me way before that point. It’s cool that she planned it with Alex and my Mum, it makes me happy that she can plan something for me with one of my friends for some reason. I can’t wait to go there and hang out for an extended period with Alex, his girlfriend and of course Connie. It should be a great time. For now, signing off.

Danger of turning into a cat blog, isn’t that right Shelby? – 24th April 2012

Wellity, wellity, wellity. So I was very ill last week. It was easily the worst illness I’ve had in years and I broke my record of vlogging every day for almost a month. I couldn’t get out of bed and didn’t even have the energy to turn on the TV and watch anything. It was some kind of food poisoning, at least that’s the explanation I’m sticking with. I didn’t eat anything fancy but my stomach was in ruins for days. I had to miss 5 days of work which sucked so much. Not only was I feeling like crap, I was unable to work, to earn money, or even knock a few more films off of the list for the Epic Film Challenge. Connie was also a little ill on one of the days so we were both ill at home all day. To make matters worse the moment a barrage of unforgiving, relentless spew barreled out of my throat, my Mum was leaving for 4 days. Which meant I had to watch after all 4 of our cats, make sure they all had their own individual food and water, separating them and picking up all their crap. It was hard to walk, let alone do all that, so it was an awful week that I’m glad is over. Even after I had half recovered my stomach was rumbling non stop for nearly 2 days, one of the most uncomfortable feelings I’ve ever experienced that gradually transitioned from uncomfortable to painful.

Even more annoying than that, I ate nothing for 2 days and very little for the remaining 3. You’d think I’d lose a bit of weight, right? Nah, not at all. Really need to put some effort into doing that myself though, now I can move around normally again. In other news, we got another cat. Yeah. Another one. That’s two that me and Connie now have, plus the 3 my Mum has. Though I’m sure Willow will be gone any week now, she was throwing up blood last night which is a worry. I love that cat and she’s been with us for at least 15 years, and even then we didn’t know how old she was. It feels like it’s going to be here time soon, which is going to be a sad day for me. So I was working last week and Connie appeared out of nowhere, asking if we could get another kitten. Immediately I was skeptical, mainly for monetary reasons, and also because of Lily. How would she take another cat? Let alone one that would be sleeping in the same room as her. Though I had to admit deep down I’d love to have another little kitten again, and I know that it’d be giving the little bugger a loving home.

So I took my break and went up to the pet shop to see a group of black cats with little touches of white. I said I was fine with it and Connie got the cute one with the white whiskers. After debating all night while I was in work, we threw around a few names. I say “we” it was more Connie giving me names and me shooting them down. Like Bella, Luna, Gizmo and a few others. I wouldn’t have minded Bella, and Gizmo was awesome but sounded too silly. When I got home from work I was told that Lily was super offended and being really reclusive. Connie brought up names again and mentioned Shelby, her favourite car. It seemed to fall into place and I liked it, so Shelby it was. It’s different, I like it. If the bad news was Lily was offended, the good news was that Shelby knew how to clean herself and had no problem jumping up onto the bed. When we got Lily, she couldn’t clean herself and we had to wipe her ass every time she took a dump which was a major pain in the…well, ass.

Over the last week Lily has gotten used to the idea of Shelby but still hisses at her if she gets too close or tries to play. It’s going surprisingly well. Meer is a little distant but she always is, Willow doesn’t care and Charlie is fine with anyone it seems. He just continues to have that dopey look on his face most of the time. I have to say Shelby is really nice, when she’s not running around, digging her claws in too hard, jumping all over the place, digging into anything that makes an annoying sound and whining non stop….okay so she’s kind of a major annoyance! However, her soft fur, tendency to cuddle up to you, sit on your lap and purr, kind of makes up for it. Hopefully she’ll grow into it and stay as cute. Lily seems so much bigger now, and grown up. She always stuck to herself but it’s really evident now, and she behaves herself a lot more which is great.

Wow, so this is turning into a proper cat blog. The vlog is also in danger of turning into a cat vlog, one of the recent videos was just cat footage because I couldn’t be bothered to film anything else. Oh well! The new Trials game came out last week too, which has been a major highlight. Trials HD, a game released on the Xbox Live service a few years ago, is maybe one of my favourite games ever. So, long overdue, Trials Evolution has finally been released and improves on everything the first game laid down.

The tracks are now all outdoors and the scope is just fantastic. There’s also online multiplayer action, so it’s just a joy to play. For anyone playing along at home, it’s a 2.5D game, where you ride motorbikes across 3D levels, on a 2D plain. So all you control is the tilt of the bike, and the speed. It’s ridiculously addictive and I’ve already started cementing my place as the new Trials master. What makes the game so amazing is that you can create your own tracks, and the room for creativity is utterly endless. It’s hard to do, but with effort and time, you can create tracks worthy of being in the main game, and sharing them online couldn’t be easier. A 10/10 already for me.

An example of a user created track, and this isn't even pushing the capabilities

In closing, for now, I’ll leave a few pictures. The first is Charlie giving me a “look” after watching Shelby bounce around playing. The second is Shelby the day after we got her. The third is when I filmed Shelby, and Lily creeped up on her from behind the sofa, before noticing I was there and looking at me with the guiltiest face I’ve ever seen a cat have.