In Medieval Japan, an elderly warlord retires, handing over his empire to his three sons. However, he vastly underestimates how the new-found power will corrupt them and cause them to turn on each other...and him.
Sanjuro, a wandering samurai enters a rural town in nineteenth century Japan. After learning from the innkeeper that the town is divided between two gangsters, he plays one side off against the other. His efforts are complicated by the arrival of the wily Unosuke, the son of one of the gangsters, who owns a revolver. Unosuke has Sanjuro beaten after he reunites an abducted woman with her husband and son, then massacres his father's opponents. During the slaughter, the samurai escapes with the help of the innkeeper; but while recuperating at a nearby temple, he learns of innkeeper's abduction by Unosuke, and returns to the town to confront him. Written by
Bernard Keane <BKeane2@email.dot.gov.au>
Akira Kurosawa: [weather] Like in most Kurosawa films, rainy weather is present in a few scenes, increasing the effect of the characters' discomfort. The windy weather all throughout the film represents the chaotic life in the town. See more »
When Sanjuro practices throwing the knife at a leaf, the wire on the knife is clearly visible (the scene was filmed backwards; the knife was actually pulled off the leaf by the wire). See more »
Let me go, father. It's my chance.
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"Yojimbo", Japanese for "bodyguard" is the story of Sanjuro Kuwabatake, (Mifune) a samurai without a master or anyone to protect who walks into a small Japanese village that is rife with violence caused by two feuding groups. The boss of each group tries to hire Sanjuro, who decides to solve the village's issues by pitting one side against another. Problems arise for Sanjuro when the son of one of the bosses shows up, who brandishes a gun and absolutely is not afraid to use it.
"Yojimbo" was later remade into "A Fist Full of Dollars", featuring Clint Eastwood, and the similarities are certainly prevalent, particularly with their respective "heroes". Mifune, a great actor who is able to be extremely expressive without the benefit of a lot of dialogue, is once again excellent in this film. The story itself is a good one, and the film was entertaining overall. I fear, however, that I may have either tried to watch too much Kurosawa in a short period of time, or that I may have seen his three best too early, because there wasn't a lot that excited me in this film as opposed to say, "The Seven Samurai", "Rashomon" or "High and Low". At times the film seemed to drag a little, and Unosuke, the guy with the gun, became kind of a joke because after awhile the way he was acting menacing with his gun was really pretty humorous. I kept thinking about the Simpsons episode when Homer joins the NRA and was using his gun for everything, including turning on the television, and I don't think that was the reaction that Kurosawa intended.
I'm not panning the film as a whole; I just think that "Yojimbo" is perhaps not one of Kurosawa's great films. Every great director has some films that don't seem to be in the same league as their masterpieces, (though I have yet to watch a Kubrick film that hasn't left me breathless with admiration) and I'm certain that Kurosawa is no exception. Because the film was decent, but not great, I'm giving it a decent, but not great rating an average 5/10.
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