Following World War II, a retired professor, approaching his autumn years, finds his quality of life drastically reduced in war torn Tokyo. Denying despair, he pursues writing and celebrates his birthday with his adoring students.
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>
That must be what this film was when it came out. Yet comparisons between it and Yojimbo (Sanjuro being the sequel) often get it a bit wrong and tend to regard Sanjuro as better. Yes and no. It's a bit like comparing Die Hard and Die Hard with Avengeance, the third film is bigger, funnier, faster... but the first installment is darker and more original. Same with these two: Kurosowa's Yojimbo is dark and has a message and some depth (more than Sanjuro), but Sanjuro is more fun and has a faster pace. It isn't Kurosowa's finest hour, but may be one of his best attempts at lightweight crowd-pleasing (though still bearing lots of quality!) and much closer to great Hollywood capers that inspired him (John Ford was his idol!). Mifune is on top form, yet again, as the reluctant nonchalant samurai/manipulator Sanjuro, and layers his performance with a subtly comical aspect. Probably the best film of Kurosowa's oeuvre to watch first if you've never seen any of his films with Mifune (it has a short running time [96min] and flows smoothly). See what I mean? Yeah you! Well then get moving: go out there and see what all the fuss is about!!!
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