8.3/10
73,735
157 user 141 critic

Yojimbo (1961)

Yôjinbô (original title)
Unrated | | Comedy, Drama, Thriller | 13 September 1961 (USA)
A crafty ronin comes to a town divided by two criminal gangs and decides to play them against each other to free the town.

Director:

Writers:

(story), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
Popularity
4,496 ( 491)

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

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

Videos

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Sanjuro (1962)
Action | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

A crafty samurai helps a young man and his fellow clansmen save his uncle, who has been framed and imprisoned by a corrupt superintendent.

Director: Akira Kurosawa
Stars: Toshirô Mifune, Tatsuya Nakadai, Keiju Kobayashi
Rashomon (1950)
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

A heinous crime and its aftermath are recalled from differing points of view.

Director: Akira Kurosawa
Stars: Toshirô Mifune, Machiko Kyô, Masayuki Mori
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A war-hardened general, egged on by his ambitious wife, works to fulfill a prophecy that he would become lord of Spider's Web Castle.

Director: Akira Kurosawa
Stars: Toshirô Mifune, Minoru Chiaki, Isuzu Yamada
Ran (1985)
Action | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

Set in Japan in the 16th century (or so), an elderly warlord retires, handing over his empire to his three sons. However, he vastly underestimates how the new-found power will corrupt them, or cause them to turn on each other...and him...

Director: Akira Kurosawa
Stars: Tatsuya Nakadai, Akira Terao, Jinpachi Nezu
Seven Samurai (1954)
Action | Adventure | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.7/10 X  

A poor village under attack by bandits recruits seven unemployed samurai to help them defend themselves.

Director: Akira Kurosawa
Stars: Toshirô Mifune, Takashi Shimura, Keiko Tsushima
Adventure | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

Lured by gold, two greedy peasants escort a man and woman across enemy lines. However, they do not realize that their companions are actually a princess and her general.

Director: Akira Kurosawa
Stars: Toshirô Mifune, Misa Uehara, Minoru Chiaki
Ikiru (1952)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

A bureaucrat tries to find a meaning in his life after he discovers he has terminal cancer.

Director: Akira Kurosawa
Stars: Takashi Shimura, Nobuo Kaneko, Shin'ichi Himori
Kagemusha (1980)
Drama | History | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A petty thief with an utter resemblance to a samurai warlord is hired as the lord's double. When the warlord later dies the thief is forced to take up arms in his place.

Director: Akira Kurosawa
Stars: Tatsuya Nakadai, Tsutomu Yamazaki, Ken'ichi Hagiwara
High and Low (1963)
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  

An executive of a shoe company becomes a victim of extortion when his chauffeur's son is kidnapped and held for ransom.

Director: Akira Kurosawa
Stars: Toshirô Mifune, Yutaka Sada, Tatsuya Nakadai
Red Beard (1965)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

In 19th century Japan, a rough tempered yet charitable town doctor trains a young intern.

Director: Akira Kurosawa
Stars: Toshirô Mifune, Yûzô Kayama, Tsutomu Yamazaki
Stray Dog (1949)
Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

During a sweltering summer, a rookie homicide detective tries to track down his stolen Colt pistol.

Director: Akira Kurosawa
Stars: Toshirô Mifune, Takashi Shimura, Keiko Awaji
Drama | Horror | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

After living a life marked by coldness, an aging professor is forced to confront the emptiness of his existence.

Director: Ingmar Bergman
Stars: Victor Sjöström, Bibi Andersson, Ingrid Thulin
Edit

Cast

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

Storyline

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

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

13 September 1961 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Yojimbo  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Tatsuya Nakadai, who plays the flamboyant, pistol-waving Unosuke here, also plays the main villain role in the Yojimbo sequel, Sanjuro (1962). See more »

Goofs

In the initial fight scene The Samurai cuts the first two adversaries in the mid-section, then slices the last man's arm off. That last man is first seen from behind holding the sword in his right arm above his head, but the arm holding the sword shown moments later is a left arm. See more »

Quotes

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

Connections

Referenced in Vampire Hunter D (1985) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Reinventing the Western
17 September 2002 | by (Switzerland) – See all my reviews

After a string of classic masterpieces, Kurosawa confronted his influences head-on. Throwing John Ford's Western aesthetics into a blender and painting them pitch black. The results are Yojimbo and its legacy.

Yojimbo ("the bodyguard") is the tale of a flea-ridden wandering swordsman, Sanjuro (Toshiro Mifune, in his finest performance). He arrives at a gang-war ravaged town and starts hiring himself out to both sides, playing them off against another, in order to wipe all the scum out. Sound familiar?

Even though Yojimbo the film is a thrilling ride and very funny dark comedy, it is hard to imagine what a bombshell this was for audiences at the time of its release. It is as far removed as can be from the then squeaky-clean aesthetic of samurai films: you can almost smell the sweat and the grime of the sordid town and characters. The action is fast and furious, enhanced by Kurosawa's deft use of telephoto lenses and Masaru Sato's avant-garde score. With all that, Yojimbo was a massive kick in the pants of a fossilized genre.

It exploded beyond the confines of its own country and genre, forever influencing the very Westerns that had inspired it, particularly a new wave out of Spain and Italy at the time. One Sergio Leone copy/pasted the whole plot into his own revisionist Western and gave us the Dollars trilogy. The slightest of Spaghetti Western enthusiasts owes Kurosawa a debt of gratitude.

As with all truly great work, its greatness exists even devoid of context, and for all the historical precedents it set, all Kurosawa wanted to make was an entertaining film. That he bloody well succeeded is the least you can say about Yojimbo.


36 of 44 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
What's your favourite Kurosawa? jon-larsen
Criterion for only $1.99 RolandtheSilver
Kurosawa vs Leone..yes, again.... MudFlapp
Would a 15-year old enjoy this? faulknerfan123
Dashiell Hammett's Red Harvest collegeofuselessknowlege
List of films that use this plotline? YnEoS
Discuss Yojimbo (1961) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?