“Yojimbo” was officially released in 1961. (same year the Fantastic Four were introduced) It received unanimous praise from critics and movie goers alike as well as making enough revenue at the box office. One Year Later, a follow-up, Sanjuro also earned praise. The Criterion Collection digitally restored both films as a DVD/Blu-Ray boxset as spine numbers 52-53. Leonardo DiCaprio, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, George Lucas & Terry Gilliam mentioned Yojimbo as one of their favorite films. The sole reason why I wanted to review this film, is because “Ghost of Tsushima” (a video game inspired by Kurosawa’s works) is getting a sequel.
This review contains no crucial SPOILERS whatsoever. I’m giving some of you newcomers a chance to see my number one movie from 1961.
Honorable & Dishonorable Aspects
Honorable: Akira Kurosawa did a fantastic job directing, producing, writing and editing the film. Making sure everything’s according to plan.
Akira’s frequent collaborator Toshiro Mifune (Seven Samauri, Rashomon, Throne of Blood) did an excellent job for his performance as Sanjuro.
Pacing felt stable. Didn’t feel slow or fast. Never looked at my watch. My eyes were glued to the TV.
I’m giving Yojimbo credit for inspiring lone wolf type characters without a name. Here’s a list of similar works inspired by Yojimbo based on a character without a name, a lone wolf and a skilled fighter. Gotta give credit where credit is due.
- The Dollars Trilogy – Clint Eastwood as The Man with no Name
- Samurai Jack – Phil LaMarr voices the titular character
- V for Vendetta – Hugo Weaving plays V
- Drive – Ryan Gosling as The Driver
- Dredd – Karl Urban portrays judge, jury and executioner
- Last Mand Standing starring Bruce Willis
- Boba Fett & The Mandalorian
- The Mexico Trilogy with Antonio Banderas (minus the first movie) as El Mariachi
Cinematography captures in-depth imagery shot in black-and-white. Makes me wanna replay Ghost of Tsushima in Kurosawa Mode.
Wipe Transitions are used to go from one scene to another. George Lucas also used this technique in “Star Wars.”
Costume Designs and Set Pieces reflect the Edio period.
The film’s title means Bodyguard in Japanese.
The village takes place in 1860. During the final years of the Edio period.
Primary Themes are Corruption, Control & Protection. Each one is handled maturely.
Dishonorable: If you’re not a fan of non-English language films, it might not be your cup of tea. I on the other hand, never felt miserably bored. I’ll let this con slide
I couldn’t find nothing wrong. I’m giving Akira and his posse an Extra Point for making a flawless film as possible.
The Final Verdict: A, FOR APEX!
As a millennial born in 1993, Yojimbo is one of Akira Kurosawa’s best works along with Rashomon, Seven Samurai, Throne of Blood, The Hidden Fortress & Ran. If you’re a pure movie buff or new to Akira’s filmography, buy the aforementioned films digitally preserved by The Criterion Collection on DVD/Blu-Ray. Don’t forget to play Ghost of Tsushima & “Nioh.” The latter’s based on Akira’s unfinished script.
Which movie should I watch and review from The Criterion Collection? Please leave a comment and I’ll respond back.