Yojimbo (1961) starring Toshiro Mifune, Eijiro Tono, Seizaburo Kawazu, Kyu Sazanka, Tatsuya Nakadai, Daisuke Kato directed by Akira Kurosawa Movie Review

Yojimbo (1961)   4/54/54/54/54/5

Yojimbo (1961) starring Toshiro Mifune

One Samurai

Sanjuro (Toshiro Mifune), a ronin who walks the land going which ever way the wind blows him as he earns his money through being a mercenary, enters a tired little town where two rival factions are at was. As Sanjuro learns; Seibei (Seizaburo Kawazu) and Ushitora (Kyu Sazanka) were once partners but a falling out has lead to them being at war with each other and destroying the town in the process. Spotting an opportunity to make some money he decides to play each side off against each other by joining both sides. But the calm and confident Sanjuro who's wit is as sharp as his sword shows a weakness when he helps a female prisoner to escape.

Have you ever felt the pressure to agree with something just because of the overwhelming strength of support for it? This is the case when it comes to legendary director Akira Kurosawa whose movies have influenced directors ever since his movies won over audiences during the 50s and 60s because he has such a protective following that if you dared to suggest anything other than greatness you are in trouble. This I have experienced first hand when I didn't heap praise on his "Seven Samurai" and even went as far as to say as a piece of entertainment it didn't quite work.

So that brings me to "Yojimbo" another Akira Kurosawa movie which is held in high esteem by many and has influenced cinema ever since it was released although ironically it is clear to see that it was a movie influenced by Western cinema itself. Now for me it is actually quite interesting to see the difference between "Seven Samurai" and "Yojimbo" as the earlier movie was heavily about the look and the style where as whilst "Yojimbo" has the look and the style it is a much lighter peace which is focused just as much as being entertaining as it is about impressing with its look.

I suppose in a way what I am saying is that "Yojimbo" is much easier to watch for the film fan who is looking to be entertained rather than the film student studying a director's style. As such the story of Sanjuro being this ultra cool ronin who oozes confidence playing two warring factions off against each other is easy to follow and has plenty of humour in there from some of the characters to the way they act around Sanjuro. There is still the style and the impressive action but it doesn't ever become bogged down by how impressive a scene looks and focuses on the audiences needs more.

What this all boils down to is that between "Seven Samurai" and "Yojimbo" I prefer "Yojimbo" because of the fact to just the average film fan it is much more entertaining and less about the style. I imagine for those whose interest lies in the art of movie making the choice will be the other way around. What I will say is that whilst "Yojimbo" came after many of Akira Kurosawa's great movies it is the one I recommend to those who are yet to watch any of his other movies to start with because of its ease to watch.