Akira Kurosawa's films have been the greatest influence on my life, along with Karate Kid and Enter the Dragon. The samurai films were about the sword fights, secondary; first, they were about characters, and timeless stories.

Celebrate Japanese Film Genius Akira Kurosawa's 100th Birthday, With This Criterion Box SetS

Like Hidden Fortress, which was the direct influence for Star Wars, and the Seven Samurai, which was remade into a western, the Magnificent Seven. I like the originals better, where the heroes' swagger is replaced by strong quiet calm. The comments, by true fans, note that four films were left out of this set, and the extras are thin. But the set does include Kurosawa's first four films, which have never been released. Several films have also shown up on Netflix streaming, too. And Gizmodo friend Ebert is currently tweeting links to his old reviews.

I have also read Kurosawa's autobiography, which is called, "Something Like an Autobiography", which I recommend if you want to know more about the man. [Criterion via Amazon]