Pros: surprisingly intelligent plot, amazing cinematography, great acting
I first saw Seven Samurai not long before I moved to Japan, several years ago. I remember expecting it to be a Chinese style martial art's film. I definitely wasn't expecting a film so long there's an intermission half way through, nor was I expecting the majority of the film to be about villagers trying to hire the samurai.
The story begins with a village threatened by bandits. The bandits are waiting for the harvest to finish before stealing everything the villagers have grown. In order to protect themselves, the villagers decide - not unanimously - to hire 7 samurai.
After finding samurai willing to help, they return to the village and plan the defences. The samurai realize the only way to make the villagers safe is to teach them to defend themselves and wipe out the bandits.
Though the plot seems simple enough, there's a lot going on in the film. There are class divisions (the villagers are looked down upon by the city folk), revelations about what the villagers have been through with the bandits, and an ending I never saw coming. There's also very little fighting in the film - most of it contained in the last hour or so when the bandits attack.
I can't praise this movie enough. If you're interested in Japanese history or samurai, this is a great movie to watch. Kurosawa was a master of his craft.