The story: Young samurai wanna-be's gather to naively plot action against a corrupt local clan. Before they can cause too much trouble, a wise old samurai played by Toshiro Mifune (Red Beard, Hidden Fortress, High and Low) takes them under his wing after saving them from certain death in a night-time assault by their enemies. He becomes their guiding ally - and guardian angel - in their battle against corruption.
This is not your typical Kurosawa/Mifune action fest. There are fast and furious action scenes where we see Mifune do his dash and slash thing, but they are few. The emphasis here is on plot, character, and humor.
Yes, humor. There are moments of comedy unlike anything I've seen in other Kurosawa films. But the underlying theme again is about honor, bravery, and the bond that exists among the few remaining samurai who still adhere to "the code" but who sometimes end up on opposite sides of the sword fight, as happens here, with a vengeance.
And one of the unusual plot points about this film is the important role played by flowers.
This is a bare bones Criterion DVD but the image quality is quite high. The only extra to speak of is a trailer for the movie, but unusually, it contains several scenes that show the movie being produced and we actually get to see Kurosawa himself directing.