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|Index||124 reviews in total|
119 out of 141 people found the following review useful:
The epitome of cinema cool., 6 February 2004
Author: Ben_Cheshire from Oz
If you ever watched Pulp Fiction and thought: movie cool was born here, or
maybe you saw any single Sergio Leone movie and thought: this guy invented
movie-cool (if you haven't, i thoroughly recommend it - Kill Bill is nothing
to his Good, the Bad and the Ugly or Once Upon a Time in the West), then
experience Yojimbo, or The Bodyguard. Kurosawa's camera sits behind Toshiro
Mifune's man-with-no-name, inviting us to look up at the back of his head as
he walks the earth, inviting us to be in awe of this man. And as he walks,
super-cool walking-the-earth music plays. Later on, when he's taunted and
asked to prove himself, he slices a guy's arm off and plays the petty,
money-grabbing rival factions in the town he wanders into off each
If you have it in your mind that a guy called Kurosawa couldn't make movies that would impress you, that the cultural gap would be too great - be assured that Kurosawa's movies are rife with Western values. Sure, they are rife with Japanese values (i am told), but Kurosawa had a great appreciation of Western culture. He based many of his movies on Western texts, like Shakespeare, Dostoyevsky, or American gangster fiction and film. Yojimbo is one of the latter - inspired by the Dashiell Hammet novel Red Harvest (Hammett's novel The Maltese Falcon was put onscreen moment for moment by John Huston in the movie of the same name which immortalised Humphrey Bogart).
Actually, the history of the story of the lone wolf, the wanderer with a weapon, who rides into town to play off two warring factions against each other - is quite a story itself. Dashiell Hammett, an American, wrote a novel with an American private eye as the stranger. In 1961, Akira Kurosawa transposed this story to medieval Japan, after the fall of a dynasty, where a Samurai finds himself with no place to go (at the beginning, we see him throw a branch up in the air and walk the direction it falls), and no master to serve. A bodyguard with no-one to protect. In 1964, Sergio Leone transposed the screenplay of Yojimbo (nearly word for word) to the spanish desert, and he brought along a young television actor named Clint Eastwood, and together they revolutionised the western with Fistfull of Dollars, and created an entire genre, the Spaghetti Western, which sported among its attributes a gritty, desolate landscape, and a cynical, postmodern lack-of-values ideology (traditional American westerns had quite plush landscapes and were always black and white (good and evil) in their value system. Despite the massive influence of Fistfull of Dollars, it pales in comparison to both its predecessor Yojimbo, and its sequals, For a Few Dollars More and The Good the Bad and the Ugly. But still, both Yojimbo and Fistful are iconic movies, and very cool movies.
With cool music, a cool anti-hero, a fun script, and a visually spectacular canvas of an image, painted by the eye of an artist (it is said that Kurosawa storyboarded his movies in full-scale paintings), Yojimbo is one of the coolest movies ever made.
87 out of 93 people found the following review useful:
Kurosawa., 26 September 1999
Author: Peach-2 from Netherlands
Only a handful of directors know atmosphere the way Akira Kurosawa does, only a handful. Yojinbo opens with a tracking shot of a ronin samurai walking down a dusty road. The camera wisely stays behind the samurai, played by Toshiro Mifune, so we cannot see his face or expressions. This samurai is desperate. Mifune has no master and no money. Kurosawa doesn't let you see his desperation, instead focusing on the back of his head and his profile to set up one of the most memorable characters in cinema history. The film has been copied many times, its practically the most influential film of the modern action genre. Yojinbo isn't action packed however, Kurosawa takes his time setting up characters and plot. The fact that this masterless samurai has deep compassion for strangers is different than most modern action movies alone. Toshiro Mifune is magical in the lead role. His presence is felt all throughout the film even when he isn't on camera. All film buffs should watch this film, it is a perfect example of a director and actor with confidence in their craft.
54 out of 65 people found the following review useful:
First class samurai action tale with philosophy to boot, 9 November 2002
Author: funkyfry from Oakland CA
Classic samurai action pic; often imitated but never equalled. Mifune
creates a memorable character (who appeared in a sequel) in the Ronin who
decides the course of his life on the toss of a stick, and ends up risking
his life to save a village full of peasants he finds revolting. It's
possible to see "Yojimbo's" actions as either heroic or as the game of a
bored warrior in need of amusement -- as often in Kurosawa's films, the fact
that the characters' motives remain open to interpretation adds depth to the
Wonderful images, and skillful direction that keeps the pace of the storytelling tight and tells most of the story through images -- this is the kind of film that is so good it can be watched a silent film without losing too much of its impact or meaning.
I think that if Kurosawa had spent more of his time in litigation and less making movies, he might have made a living for the rest of his life off all the movies that have ripped off this movie. Certainly Eastwood's "Man with No Name" character owes a lot to Mifune's contribution; not only in Leone's films (the first of which borrows its entire plot from Kurosawa; a court settlement ensued which made sure Kurosawa made most of the profits from "Fistful of Dollars" in Asia his own) but also in Eastwood's best film as a director -- "High Plains Drifter", which borrows scenes such as Eastwood's rebuke of the villagers from "Yojimbo".
The really funny thing about all this, and what not too many American critics or audiences have noted, is that "Yojimbo" is itself a western. All the ingredients for a western are here, and the film's plot and style obviously owe a debt to Zinnemann's "High Noon". "Yojimbo" even borrows the device of time, setting up a confrontation at 3:00 a.m. as shouted by the town crier. I like "Yojimbo" better than "High Noon", so I don't want to go too far into this line of thought....
56 out of 69 people found the following review useful:
For sheer entertainment value 'Yojimbo' is hard to beat! The Kurosawa movie I enjoy the most., 15 May 2004
Author: Infofreak from Perth, Australia
I'm not going to waste time debating which was the "greatest" or "best" of Kurosawa's movies, but if you want to know the one I enjoy the most it's 'Yojimbo'. 'Rashomon' and 'Throne Of Blood' are probably deeper and more substantial, but for sheer entertainment value 'Yojimbo' is hard to beat! Being a Kurosawa movie it's no surprise that it stars Toshiro Mifune. The two made many movies together, but this is the performance I like to watch the most. I love looking at Mifune's face! His expressions are awesome. He was without a doubt one of the 20th centuries greatest movie stars. 'Yojimbo' was a massive influence on many spaghetti westerns, specifically 'A Fistful Of Dollars', but before you bay for Sergio Leone's blood, please read Dashiell Hammett's detective classic 'Red Harvest', published in 1929 and you'll see that Kurosawa lifted his plot from it. I see no mention whatsoever of this source material in the credits for 'Yojimbo', so let's just leave the Leone bashing alone okay? Many people have convincingly argued that samurai movies were inspired by classic American westerns anyway. Walter Hill later "remade" 'Yojimbo' (or 'Red Harvest' depending on your perspective) as 'Last Man Standing' and David Lynch gave a small nod to it in his 'Wild At Heart'. You can certainly see both the samurai and spaghetti influences in Tarantino's 'Kill Bill' 1 and 2, that's for sure. "Influences", "inspirations", these are things that go around and around, it's what a writer or film maker does with them that counts. 'Yojimbo' is a classic action movie. Maybe only 'Wages Of Fear' is better. Every film buff needs this movie in their collection!
45 out of 48 people found the following review useful:
"You don't mind if I kill all of you?" "What? Kill me if you can!" "It'll hurt.", 24 December 2003
Author: MisterWhiplash from United States
Akira Kurosawa's Yojimbo is a not too long, not too short action film
that uses its action with just the right touches of voracity and
excitement, and in the backdrop is also a sense of humor to the
process. If I had to recommend a Kurosawa film to someone who's never
seen one before (and might be impatient to sit through the three and a
half hour Seven Samurai, or might not get the non-linear structure of
Rashomon), I'd put this one in their hands to try out.
Kurosawa regular Toshiro Mifune is terrific as Sanjuro Kuwabatake, a drifter of a samurai who stumbles upon a town with an assorted cast of characters, with a split between two gangs. One of the gangsters, Unosuke (Nakadai), is the only one in town; it seems, with a gun. At first Sanjuro plays each side, but when he gets beaten roughly by whom he was "protecting", he realizes the fun's over, and it's time to fight back.
Much has been made about how Sergio Leone took Kurosawa's story and characters (most in particular being a rogue from out of town) and made them into his breakthrough Fistful of Dollars- Kurosawa even sued Leone over the story rights. But to those who wonder whether Yojimbo is 'better' than Fistful or vice versa need to remember one of two things- Kurosawa took the story from Dashiell Hammett's gangster novel Red Harvest, so neither filmmaker is making something really original; and that since each film is made in a different continent, and with the slightest different sensibilities about its characters. For one thing in Yojimbo guns are scarcer than in Fistful, and there's a treatment Kurosawa has with his actors that sets it apart from the small town western scope of Leone's weapons and actors. So each film (noticeably) carries its own kind of visual style while working in a similar plot structure. In other words, it's kind of like comparing apples and oranges picked in the same farm (if that makes at all sense).
Overall, Yojimbo on its own is a lean, cool Japanese crime/action film, helmed by a master, and featuring a number of highlights to look forward to on multiple viewings. Some of those include: the scene inside Seibei's brothel (with the women dancing and singing), Masaru Sato's wonderful musical orchestrations, Mifune's curiously low-key and rough performance (which did and didn't serve as inspiration to Clint), and a climax that is up there with one of Kurosawa's finest battles. A+
37 out of 40 people found the following review useful:
Sensational!, 11 November 2001
Author: Tigereyes from West Hollywood, CA
If I had to choose only one movie for film students to learn from, this
would be it. Other films may be more profound, or their imagery more
groundbreaking, but this one is so tightly constructed that nothing - not
frame, word, or gesture - is extraneous.
Toshiro Mifune, one of the world's most charismatic actors, is perfection as a tough loner of a samurai who takes it upon himself to clean up a town corrupted by two gambling clans. Swirling through and around him is a story that is both technically flawless and profoundly moving.
Kurosawa meticulously infuses every detail with meaning; there's a purpose behind every shot, and aspiring directors should pay close attention (why is the camera slightly tilted? why are there concubines in the background?). His economy of style was never more amazing; watch as the samurai rides into town, and the director establishes the atmosphere with exactly one jaw-dropping shot. And the story is equally well-crafted, with no plot holes and no inconsistencies.
A wonderful tale that rolls beautifully from start to finish. See it, see it, see it!!
36 out of 45 people found the following review useful:
Great movie with one cool character, 28 October 2002
Author: InzyWimzy from Queens, NY
I just figured out why Toshirô Mifune is so mesmerizing to watch. It's just
the way he expresses himself. This guy's amazing!
I've been exploring the halls of Kurosawa and it's getting hard to leave. Yojimbo is a FUN film to watch. Toshiro as the samurai steals almost every scene he is in and I think the epitome of his character is when he's in Gonji's place lying on the floor. He doesn't brag, but when he goes into action, that's it! As soon as he enters the chaotic town, he doesn't seem fazed at all and actually enjoys it. His demeanor is really amusing and it's great watching his plan unfold; how he manipulates both groups to get his way (it's really funny). Great thing too is he's not really a hero and he's not entirely a villain. He doesn't hesitate to kill, but does so methodically. You also have "characters" including Gonji, the thugs from both sides, and Unosuke with an ace up his sleeve (or robe?) which makes things really interesting.
Yojimbo's mix of dark humor, action, and a great performance from Mifune make for a Kurosawa classic.
29 out of 32 people found the following review useful:
Kurosawa's most entertaining film, 17 October 2006
Author: faraaj-1 (email@example.com) from Sydney, Australia
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!
31 out of 37 people found the following review useful:
Japan's Lone Ranger, 17 September 2002
Author: OttoVonB from Switzerland
Kurosowa, many believe, only shot samurai pictures. Wrong. Obviously: Dersu Uzala, Dodesukaden, Dreams, Ikiru... they have nothing to do with samurai! Others say he told stories of characters trying to redeem themselves or rediscovering themselves. The exception is the Sanjuro duology (Yojimbo & Sanjuro), a world of violence and dark humor. Sanjuro (Mifune, way cooler than Eastwood in Leone's conform copy western), a wandering ronin, arrives in a town where everyone seems to have some criminal history or other and where two warring factions fight for control. He then slowly proceeds to play both ends against one another... for money? for power? no. Simply because they are all scum and deserve to die! And this is where Kurosowa and Mifune's stellar talents really gear in: Sanjuro doesn't try to be cool or dark, he just acts as a casual tourist, and his enigmatic detatchement from the violence around him makes him far more menacing than any of the abjectly evil (and ugly) townsfolk around him... and cool, let's not forget. Yojimbo is Kurosowa's most darkly amusing film and one of Mifune's most brilliant turns. It also spanned a great (though inferior) sequel. I urge you to check this out, just to see what happens when real justice kicks in...
37 out of 49 people found the following review useful:
"Yojimbo" is a visual feast to all action film fans out there!, 22 February 2002
Author: James J. Kim-2 from Home is where the heart is...
I simply enjoy this Akira Kurosawa film for its great use of action, crisp
film editing, and fine attention to detail. From the ominous opening scene
to the action-packed finale, this film never letsup. Toshiro Mifune's
character of Sanjuro is fine-tuned to the point where a simple shrug or
mannerism conveys deep, consequential meaning to the overall drama of the
Many filmmakers have been influenced by this film, most notably director George Miller, who borrowed heavily from concepts featured in "Yojimbo" (the wandering warrior), as well as Kurosawa's "Seven Samurai" (villagers protecting themselves from mauraders) for his hit action film "The Road Warrior." Not to mention, Sergio Leone...
In my opinion, "Yojimbo" has to be the most influential action film to be crafted within the past 4 decades. It has been imitated countless times, by many filmmakers, but has yet to be topped. "Yojimbo" truly is the cinematic template for all the action films released in the past 4 decades. Kurosawa is the master of his craft, and if you've already seen this film, don't just see it once -- see it again!
If you were thrilled by the efficient use of action and visuals in "The Road Warrior," you'll definitely be blown away by its original source material, "Yojimbo." Trust me, it is that good, and I highly recommend it!
Score: 10/10 (One of those rare films that truly deserves this score!)
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