All that you could ask for in a movie, and probably the best entry point for the Kurosawa uninitiated. Seven Samurai is often pointed to as his best, which is true, but it’s also epically long. Ran is often pointed to as the capstone for his career, which is true, but it’s also distanced and formal (and epically long). Yojimbo is, for my money, the best way to start digging into Kurosawa’s filmography.
Its sene of ironic cool still feels current 50 years later. In fact, in a post-camp, post-Tarantino world, its style of comical, violent exaggeration is arguably more at home than ever. An undeniable touchstone in the evolution of cinematic badass—darkly funny, perfectly shot, and tightly structured—it’s probably Kurosawa’s most directly entertaining film. Which is not to deny how richly detailed it is, or how well it stands as a fierce and earnest satire of ruthlessness and corruption (a theme Kurosawa would return to again and again). It feels at home today, yes, but its attitude is also oddly evocative of its time: the start of the 1960s, with rebel yells and challenges to tradition.
And you have to admire any movie that can be described as both “comically violent” and “a moral fable about humility.”
10 out of 10.