Shawn Palmquist’s review published on Letterboxd:
While not quite the masterpiece that I found Seven Samurai to be...Ran is undoubtedly an expertly crafted epic that shows the breakdown of a family amidst the pointlessness of war.
I think the father's descent into madness throughout this film will haunt my dreams forever. It's the one aspect of this film that kept me glued to the screen. In all honestly, the actual war scenes at times were a bit confusing and hard to follow, sometimes featuring people or clans whose identities and motivations were unclear to me. Not saying it all doesn't make sense...but as a first time watch there were times in which I struggled to piece together who was fighting who and for what reason. For me, the film succeeded most in exploring the relationships between this family and the associated people...and the aforementioned father coming to grips with his crumbling reality. This aspect was eerie and fascinating...almost dream like at times. All of my favorite aspects of the film and the standout scenes nearly all center around the father's character. If this film was specifically devoted to the father's journey, this probably would have been my favorite Kurosawa.
Seven Samurai had a clear goal...in showing a village of peasants being trained to defend their village. Ran is not quite as focused despite its shorter run time, and at times appears to devolve into war scenes just for the hell of it. There are however moments of transcendent beauty and haunting imagery that really pack a punch.
I realize I listed a bunch of criticisms here, despite giving this film a near perfect rating. Make no mistake...I loved this film. My criticisms are merely passing thoughts in what is an otherwise classic film that should absolutely not be missed.