Toho to Remake Kurosawa’s The Hidden Fortress

If you’ve seen George Lucas’ “Star Wars” movies, then you’ve probably seen about 50% of Akira Kurosawa’s “The Hidden Fortress”. Why? Because Lucas’ original steals whole scenes, not to mention the R2D2 and C3PO characters from Kurosawa’s 1958 film (read our review of it here), which follows two bumbling and opportunistic villagers as they stumble their way through a major Imperial event in Feudal Japan. The two men run into and end up helping a rebellious Princess (Leia) and her stern but tough bodyguard (Han Solo), all the while they are pursued by an army. Word from Variety is that Toho, the studio most known for their Godzilla movies, as well as last year’s “The Sinking of Japan”, will remake the film with Shinji Higuchi set to direct.

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Playing the Toshiro Mifune role of a general guiding a princess through enemy territory is Hiroshi Abe, a Hugh Grant-ish star who is branching out from romantic comedy to action roles.

Taking the Misa Uehara role of the princess is Masami Nagasawa, a film and TV star since her breakthrough in the 2004 megahit weepy “Crying Out Love, in the Center of the World” (Sekai no chushin de ai o sakebu).

In a departure from the original, the two bumbling peasants who attach themselves to the general and princess — and are the models for C-3PO and R2-D2 — will be combined into a single character, a mountain-dweller played by Jun Matsumoto, from boy band Arashi, who stars in hit TV drama “Hana yori dango” (Boys Over Flowers). Matsumoto has also appeared in pics, including 2004 hit “Tokyo Tower.”

I don’t like the idea of willy nilly replacing the two bumbling villagers with a single young kid character. That seems like a total slap in the face of the original. Then again, if they’re going to remake Kurosawa’s classic to begin with, why not go ahead and go all the way and REALLY ruin it?

The film starts shooting on Monday and is expected to be complete by the end of the year, with an expected release date of May 10, 2008.

Toho to Remake Kurosawa’s The Hidden Fortress