Yojimbo

Critics Consensus

As effortlessly engaging as it is widely influential, Yojimbo represents Kurosawa at the peak of his powers -- and lays the groundwork for the modern American western.

97%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 37

96%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 42,278
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Movie Info

Toshiro Mifune portrays a Samurai who finds himself in the middle of a feud-torn Japanese village. Neither side is particularly honorable, but Mifune is hungry and impoverished, so he agrees to work as bodyguard (or Yojimbo) for a silk merchant (Kamatari Fujiwara) against a sake merchant (Takashi Shimura). He then pretends to go to work for the other, the better to let the enemies tear each other apart. Imprisoned for his "treachery," he escapes just in time to watch the two warring sides wipe each other out. This was his plan all along, and now that peace has been restored, he leaves the village for further exploits. Yes, Yojimbo was the prototype for the Clint Eastwood "Man with No Name" picture A Fistful of Dollars (1964). The difference is that Fistful relies on Eastwood for its success, whereas Yojimbo scores on every creative level, from director Akira Kurosawa to cinematographer Kazuo Miyagawa to Mifune's classic lead performance.

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Critic Reviews for Yojimbo

All Critics (37) | Top Critics (7)

Audience Reviews for Yojimbo

  • Oct 08, 2015
    Yojimbo may not be up there with Sanjuro and Seven Samurai, but it is still an excellent samurai flick. Yojimbo has a peculiar blend of comedy and savagery but overall is not a very heavy or serious film, despite all the violence. While it can be easy to lose track of the plot, it is just as easy to pick it back up again. If you have difficulty reading subtitles, be warned, on this disc they are poorly done.
    Robert B Super Reviewer
  • Sep 09, 2014
    Good, though I enjoy 'A Fistful of Dollars' more. As a side note, one can see the complete inspiration for countless characters stemming from The Bodyguard, most obviously 'Samurai Jack.'
    Kyle M Super Reviewer
  • May 19, 2014
    One cannot watch Yojimbo without perceiving the tremendous impact the film had upon the Western genre. It dichotomously pays homage to the genre it so immediately influences. Further, Kurosawa is the master of simplicity, epitomizing the notion that less is more. Driven by a singularly focused plot, Yojimbo excels in its restraint. There are no real flourishes or excesses, just pure machismo--calm and collected. The story is guided by Kurosawa's technical mastery, providing a study in how to utilize the moving camera to create perfectly framed shots, as well as staging a variety of scenes within a single frame; the depth of each image frequently captures the foreground, a mid-ground scene, and an additional layer of background. These shots, like the story, are subtle, but reward viewers who get a kick out of that sort of stuff. For all it's simplicity, Yojimbo is a masterpiece both in its own right and as a point of reference.
    Jeff L Super Reviewer
  • May 14, 2014
    Akira Kurosawa helms this phenomenal action drama that elevates the genre of Samurai films even further. His style is unique, one that evokes a strong sense of grand storytelling, which was the case with Seven Samurai. Yojimbo is a great film, one that boasts an impressive cast of actors, a good script, and well paced, thought out scenes that make this film standout. I much preferred Seven Samurai to this film, nonetheless, it's a good film, one that should be seen by fans of the director, and if you enjoy these films, then you ought to check this one out. The film is very well acted and directed, as well as it helped influence many films that would try to duplicate it, but never quite match it. This is a well crafted picture, one that ranks among the finest genre films ever made, and the way it's shot, with its simple story and its acting really ring through. This is a phenomenal film, and definitely one of Akira Kurosawa's best films. The film works well on many levels, and if you enjoy a well constructed story, with plenty of action, thrills and memorable scenes, Yojimbo is such a picture worth seeing. This is a genre classic, one that ranks among the finest samurai films ever made, and it's an expertly crafted picture that has a unique directorial touch that Akira Kurosawa could provide. His filmmaking is wonderful, and gets most out of the scenes because of the cinematography, which is always one of the highpoint of his pictures. Add to that a great sense of storytelling, and you a film that is both grand and memorable, as well as furthering the art of terrific Samurai movies to the big screen. If you've enjoyed Seven Samurai, you're sure to enjoy this powerful piece of cinema, and it's a picture that has a standout legacy, which influenced countless other filmmakers, some of the finest directors to create their own slice of cinematic history. Yojimbo is great for what it is, but it's not as epic in scope as Seven Samurai, which is hard to beat. Nonetheless, Yojimbo is a solid film well worth seeing.
    Alex r Super Reviewer

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