At one point, Sanjuro gets exasperated by the clumsiness and naivete of the nine samurai whom he decided to protect, and mutters: "Stupid friends are more dangerous than enemies." Still, friends are friends no matter how stupid and enemies have to be struck down, so he went on to guide them in their pursuit of justice -- a noble gesture of mercy, given their helplessness. It's just as well, for had his friends been smart he would not have stood out among them, and his ingenuity and patience would not have been so delightfully displayed in those dismal moments created by the bungling nine. That is a lot better too than for nine smart samurai being led by a stupid ronin.
Sanjuro had to be an unsheathed sword for it is only by being so that he could, by the flash of his sword, spark the fires of courage and hindsight in his new-found disciples. He had to be so if he ever hoped to strike fear in the balls of the ruthless usurpers.
I admit it, while watching the movie I caught myself wishing I were Sanjuro, an avenger of sorts slashing my way through the defenses of those who abuse power and wallow in ill-gotten riches with impunity. Childish, yes. That's just like when I was a gradeschooler clumsily kicking and punching his way home from the pagsinean after watching Enter the Dragon or Drunken Master. Or endlessly shooting our chickens and ducks dead with a rifle carved out of a banana trunk after viewing (again and again) Delta Force or Rambo. I assure you though, I didn't do a flurry of katana chops at an imagined foe while driving back home! Wishful thinking? I know. I can't even pinch a cockroach! (Lynette's shriek in the background: Eww! yuuck!) :) But you should allow me those moments of daydreaming, if only to keep me sane what with all these multiplying revelations of unbridled greed by the Arroyos and the Ampatuans while the rest of us bear with increasing tax deductions in our payslips, poorly constructed roads, laughable military capability, and what not. But such is life. We surrender to the Fates what our courts may not be able to do anything about, and make do with what we have and can.
All this talk about stupidity reminds me of my own innumerable moments of idiocy from childhood to now. It sometimes amazes me that people around me, even those whom I caused grief, were able to put up with my stupidity, and it makes me feel fortunate that I have had smart friends who would in their unique ways make me see the light from time to time. Someone said something like, "Everyone is ignorant, only on different matters." I guess that goes the same for stupidity, in a way: Everyone was or is stupid at some point in his life. That is something we can be thankful for, because that's how we've figured out the benchmark for smartness and maturity. That's why we can giggle at ourselves whenever Kurosawa's Iago shows us the difference between setting up traps and keeping our traps shut.
Unfortunately for me, I've heard of Akiro Kurosawa several times in the past 15 years or so but didn't find time to watch his films. Not too late though, so I have now resolved to watch every Kurosawa film I could get my hands on. If our video rental shops don't have them, St. Google will provide. To our Japanese friends, doumo arigatou gozaimasu!