Yataro Tanigawa, a one-eyed hired assassin, impresses yakuza boss Gomyo Kiyoemon with his skill. Gomyo hires Tanigawa as his bodyguard, or yojimbo, to protect him during an inter-clan conflict. Tanigawa quickly rises in stature in the clan, but finds his boss’s enemies almost overwhelming.
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The Japanese softcore chambara equivalent of Casablanca. Like that film, it is masterfully directed, with a persistently probing camera that amplifies the seedy work towards a strange, heightened, fantastical, intensity. It's uncompromisingly beautiful at times. Nakadai seals the deal by adding a melancholy desolation to his character, against all odds and expectations.