As much as I disapprove of most remakes, I don't really have an issue with Akira Kurosawa's films being redone. The thing is, Kurosawa was a master of remakes, having continually reworked John Ford and Shakespeare. And in turn, his films have been remade as or have influenced later classics, like The Magnificent Seven and Star Wars. Sure, it's worth complaining about The Weinstein Co. remaking The Seven Samurai, because, well, it's The Weinstein Co. But I see little issue with the news, courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter, that Japanese studio Toho, which produced the original, is working on a redo of The Hidden Fortress. This is the film, after all, that is constantly cited as the basis for Star Wars, and if it's good enough in the hands of George Lucas, it could be good enough in the hands of special effects wizard-turned-director Shinji Higuchi (The Sinking of Japan). Cast as General Makabe, the part originated by the legendary Toshirô Mifune, is super-tall (for his country) actor Hiroshi Abe (Godzilla 2000). The part of Princess Uehara will be played by Masami Nagasawa (Godzilla: Final Wars).
One issue that Kurosawa fans may have with this remake, and The Hollywood Reporter already points this out, is that the two comical peasant characters, Tahei and Matashichi, are being condensed into one character called "Takezo". The character will still serve the same function, with his point of view being the film's perspective, but unless he talks to himself a lot, he just won't be the same. Aside from inspiring R2-D2 and C-3PO, Tahei and Matashichi have obviously influenced other pairings, including the recent characters Ragetti and Pintel from the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. Perhaps Toho believes we've seen enough of such duos? The new singular version, "Takezo", will be played by Jun Matsumoto, best known as a member of the boy band Arashi.