Excellent movie by famed Japanese director Akira Kurosawa. Clever, unpredictable plot with some great twists along the way. Good character development and some great action scenes.
The only blemish is that it is difficult to figure out which characters fit into the mix in what way. This is often heightened by Kurosawa introducing an important character out of the blue, with no background. They're often linked to the story via another character, a character who we also don't know much about, if anything at all. So some of the character-specific stories were a bit hard to follow.
An influential movie in that Sergio Leone used this as inspiration for his spaghetti westerns - a Fistful of Dollars in particular. You can see it in some of the fight scenes: the slow, deliberate build-up, the music the Mexican standoff. A Fistful of Dollars is even regarded as a remake of Yojimbo.
It wasn't perfect, though. I wish there were more frequent confrontations in the film, because the story does slow down for large sections. I don't need it to be non-stop action, but sometimes the movie was so caught up in building towards something that it felt like it was never going to get there. My only other struggle with this film would be all the names. They did a good job of casting distinct faces for the characters to make them easy to differentiate, but all their names got really muddled in my head. Aside from that I think Yojimbo was a better presentation of the story that I saw first in A Fistful of Dollars. If for nothing else, I just loved the contrast that comes when a gun is brought into the world of only swords. I definitely enjoyed watching this movie, but for my first Kurosawa film I feel like I was expecting something more.
Kurosawa's most stylish film and the BGM is a killer, but somehow, it's scenes are not as effective or memorable as it's plagiarized American version, A fistful of dollars. Mifune acts well, but his character does not have the screen presence that Eastwood so easily had. The film is also less violent compared to Sergio Leone's picture.