A nameless ronin wonders into a rural village in feudal Japan. To restore peace in the community, he concocts a plan to play the two head rivals, fighting for monopoly of the local gambling trade, against one another.
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An amazingly cinematic, awesome, and consistently impressive feature starring an eternally badass Toshiro Mifune, and directed with confidence and artistry by Akira Kurosawa. The camera work and score are also outstanding, adding to a vibe that the movie moves on that gives it a very cool, very western feel. Such a western feel in fact, that it inspired a western in the process.
Toshiro Mifune's vigilante-cum-shitstirrer wanders into town to clean it up and inspire a new generation of film makers along the way. Great characters, superb camerawork and a ripping yarn which rides along at a cracking speed, this is a perfect primer to Kurosawa's world.
I wasn't expecting Yojimbo to be as funny as it was. Mifune's samurai gestures are great physical comedy (that little shoulder shimmy every time he'd stalk off), and the giant and the idiotic brother are hilarious. I also really loved Eijirô Tôno as Gonji, the tavern keeper. I can't wait to compare it to Leone's A Fistful of Dollars and to see Kurosawa's own sequel, Sanjuro.
After watching Yojimbo about 10 times, I have realized that the heart of this satire is a subtle comparison between Samurai and Prostitutes (Geisha) The whole joke we see on television about the Pimp beating up his Ho's is real, taking place in a city near you. I think this is why the climax involves the tragedy of a prostitute and her family.