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Yojimbo (1961)
"Yôjinbô" (original title)

Unrated  |   |  Drama  |  13 September 1961 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.3/10 from 68,167 users  
Reviews: 156 user | 138 critic

A crafty ronin comes to a town divided by two criminal gangs and decides to play them against each other to free the town.



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Top Rated Movies #107 | Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 4 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Unosuke - Gunfighter
Yôko Tsukasa ...
Isuzu Yamada ...
Daisuke Katô ...
Inokichi - Ushitora's Rotund Brother
Seizaburô Kawazu ...
Seibê - Brothel Operator
Tokuemon - Sake Brewer
Hiroshi Tachikawa ...
Yôsuke Natsuki ...
Kohei's Son
Eijirô Tôno ...
Gonji - Tavern Keeper
Kamatari Fujiwara ...
Ikio Sawamura ...
Atsushi Watanabe ...
The Cooper - Coffin-Maker
Susumu Fujita ...
Homma - Instructor Who Skips Town
Kyû Sazanka ...


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>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis




Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

13 September 1961 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Yojimbo  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


Akira Kurosawa asked his sound engineer Ichiro Minawa to come up with a sound effect to be used when a sword is cutting, and killing, someone. After testing out slicing a sword into beef and pork, he finally found the perfect sample; putting two wooden chopsticks inside a raw chicken, then hacking it with a sword. See more »


The wire used to pull the Yakuza's cut kimono off can be seen as he gets up from the ground. See more »


[first lines]
Farmer: [in Japanese] Wait, son.
Traveler: [in Japanese] Let me go, father. It's my chance.
See more »


Referenced in The Warrior and the Sorceress (1984) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Kurosawa's most entertaining film
17 October 2006 | by (Sydney, Australia) – See all my reviews

Yojimbo, based on noir writer Dashiel Hammett's Red Harvest is a magnificently entertaining film. Toshiro Mifune stars as the nobody who calls himself Sanjuro (thirty but closer to forty). He enters a town destroyed by warring factions and plays a double-game to pit one faction against the other thus destroying the criminal element.

Yojimbo (aka The Bodyguard) is one of the coolest and most stylish films ever made. Starring Toshiro Mifune, Kurosawa's favorite actor, as the scruffy looking Samurai, Yojimbo has all of Kurosawa's qualities and none of the flaws. The music score is an essential element of the plot and strikingly good, but admittedly bettered by the Ennio Morricone version in the Spaghetti Western remake Fistful of Dollars. The visuals are great, from the samurai swordplay, to the desolate streets, the town crier announcing its 3 a.m. to the brutal torture scene.

One of the unique things about Yojimbo is the central character. He is an anti-hero. We see him initially as a killer and a man greedy for money. But then, he saves a family by re-uniting mother and child and giving them all the money he was advanced. Mifune has never been cooler than in this film and Eastwood could only aspire to equal such a performance.

Of the two remakes, I liked Fistful of Dollars for starting the Spaghetti Western genre, although Yojimbo is a far more superior and stylish film. The gangster version, Last Man Standing, was not very good and Bruce Willis made for a poor substitute to Yojimbo. This film looks fresh and undated even today - watch it!

34 of 38 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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