Evil Movie Reviews: Yojimbo
Yojimbo is a black and white samurai movie made by the master, Akira Kurosawa in 1961. Kurosawa mainstay, Toshiro Mifune portrays the main role. Before I get into this this article, I’d like to point out that there are definite distinctions between the samurai and kung-fu movie genres. Now that that is out of the way, let’s roll on.
The story of Yojimbo involves a no named wandering lone samurai (aka a Ronin) who enters a small village where rival gangs have a strangle hold over everything. Our ronin joins both gangs and performs a series of double crosses and lies that eventually pits each gang against each other. Sound familiar? Of course it does! It’s the exact plot to the classic 1964 Sergio Leone Spaghetti Western, Fistful Of Dollars staring squinty, angry eyed Clint Eastwood. This movie was remade again in 1996 as Last Man Standing, this time with Bruce Willis. The setting was moved from the old west to prohibition era Texas. These three movies were all based on the 1929 novel, “Red Harvest” by legendary Film Noir author Dashiell Hammet. Confused yet?
For my money Yojimbo is the best interpretation of this material which derives a certain mystical quality from being set in an time period so far in the past and so different from what we are use to. It’s amazing how easy a lone samurai could also translate as a lone gunman from the old west. You know the kind…a no named vigilante who travels from town to town operating under their own moral code. But deep down it makes sense, both fit into the mythology of their respective cultures. America may be too young of a country to have Gods and powered beings as part of our mythology but we do have the old west and that’s pretty fucking cool.
Yojimbo boasts smart, confident storytelling with gorgeously shot scenes against the backdrop of feudal japan. The action scenes are full of swift samurai sword justice that won’t disappoint. It’s considered a classic of the genre, so if you’re in the mood for that kind of thing, toss it on…you won’t be disappointed.
“He was just like me. A drawn sword that wouldn’t stay in it’s sheath. But you know, the lady was right. The best sword is kept in it’s sheath. You better stay in yours.”
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