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.
A group of idealistic young men, determined to clean up the corruption in their town, are aided by a scruffy, cynical samurai who does not at all fit their concept of a noble warrior. Written by
Jim Beaver <email@example.com>
Sanjuro is not one of Kurosawa's great films, but it shows him relaxed and having fun, deconstructing the jidai-geki (samurai film) genre with tongue firmly in cheek.
The film lacks the meticulous visual style of Yojimbo, but it is very well photographed, with some extremely fluid cinematography and those effortlessly artful group compositions that only Kurosawa seems to be able to do. The plot is a little exposition-heavy, but it's always swift-moving and never comes close to taking itself seriously.
Watching Toshiro slice apart all those enemies in the various battle scenes with nary a bloodstain in sight, I did find myself wishing the folks at Toho had sprung for a few squibs. But all is set right in the brilliant final swordfight, which is worth the price of admission.
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