Yojimbo 1961

director: Akira Kurosawa  






"What a pleasure!
What zest!
What authority!"
Daily Mail

"Kurosawa has the command of and enthusiasm for the skills of film making which distinguish the finest of Hollywood craftsmen" Daily Mail
"Toshiro Mifune is - as always - superb as the samurai" Financial Times

A ronin, a masterless samurai, is wandering through the countryside. He has the distinctive gait of a master swordsman. He reaches a crossroads, and tosses a stick in the air to decide which path he should take. And so it's fate that leads him into a small town that's in the grip of a violent feud. The silk merchant and the sake merchant are bitter enemies; each has mustered a gang of thugs to defend his interests, and the two sides are evenly matched. That's why both are eager to win the newcomer to their side. The ronin assesses the situation, sells his services to both sides, and then cynically sets about helping them to destroy each other.
If Kurosawa's story sounds familiar, that's probably because Sergio Leone 'borrowed' it for his first Clint Eastwood movie, A Fistful of Dollars. Here, as often, the original is better than the imitation. Kurosawa's film is already a kind of western, with the dishevelled hero shambling into town, setting the best trouble-shooter around and boosting business for the local coffin-shop. The townspeople are human dregs - the bad and the ugly, with a vengeance - and the hero is a classic loner, apparently only interested their money. A gun even enters the picture, though it proves no match for the ronin's sword.
Yojimbo was Kurosawa's first full-blooded comedy. It centres on Toshiro Mifune's masterful performance as the ronin (he later developed the character in Sanjuro), a paragon of cynicism, amorality and laziness. It surrounds him with brilliantly sustained sketches of villainy and vice. It expertly anchors the humour in character and situation. And the result is utterly compulsive, from first frame to last.
Tony Rayns


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Distributor Palace
Catalogue Number PVC2044A
Release Series Japanese Classics
Release Date November 1983
Printed Classification
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