Yojimbo, A samurai action movie created by the legendary director and writer Akira Kurosawa. This movie is considered the stuff of movie legend, but for me, it is far from it. It's not that it's a bad movie, not even that poor, I just didn't feel it is special and wound up for me an average movie. So why do people love this so much?, well to be perfectly honest I have no idea, it is smart no doubt but just too dull to be fully enjoyed, the kind of movie only some can fully appreciate.
Now don't get me wrong, the movie is pretty much built up of well done things, but just not well enough. Toshiro Mifune is very good as the samurai who makes up his name, he seems to act at a much higher level than everyone else in this cast, top stuff. As the acting goes though, it is not good and even though Mifune is on form, the rest of the cast drag the acting score so low I can't give it credit. The problem is it is just so over the top, it isn't believable and the characters seem like from a comedy at times.
Kurosawa directs and co writes well enough for this, it isn't maybe what I expect from a movie held in such high regard, but nevertheless you can see his skill at times. The movie I felt is not paced all that well, it has a very slow beginning and very little action actually, the ending is the opposite with lots going on and more action than before, it needed for me to be more evenly spread.
I think yet again the case with the cinematography and the editing is the same as the others before, done well not just not very well. I felt the editing could be a little sloppy, the cinematography makes sure that the technical side does it well with a nice approach and some pretty nice shots too. One thing I really disliked in the movie, maybe the most is the score, now some people who have seen it may read this part and disagree which is fine, but for me it is horrible, doesn't fit in the picture and makes ordinary scenes going slowly seem like there meant to be massive epic shots.
I think sometimes it is easy to criticise an older movie because it doesn't have the same things we have today, but this movie does have some positives. The ending is at moments thrilling and as mentioned the action stepped up, the fighting is a little poorly choreographed but I feel it only looks that way because of the editing to make it look less violent. That said this movie is not all that gory and horrible, the odd death and arm cut off, but not in a disgusting way, the movie is more sensible than to horrify the viewer.
I think by the end, you either could watch this with great praise or great displeasure, but even if you pick one way or the other, most should admit this is a smart plot. Of course Sergio Leone's "Man With no Name" series must be inspired by this, and that being a spaghetti western just goes to show how far this movie can reach and also inspire around the world. I do feel this is a kind of plot that works better like say in a western, a good story but points in it just not good enough for me, Kurosawa doesn't waste his time, he just doesn't make it enjoyable enough.
Drawing on the the cinematography of John Ford films, Kurosawa's contemplative, chess-like chiller is a precursor to the likes of Sergio Leone's A Fistful of Dollars: a movie which literally plays like a shot-by-shot Yojimbo remake.
Kurosawa captures paranoid townsfolk peeping through shop windows, Saki showers, showdowns and moments of snappy comedy. But it's Mifune's enigmatic samurai who really hits film history hard, bringing us what might just be the first ever depiction of Mr stone-faced stoic cool (a la Clint Eastwood).
Yojimbo is ultimately a silly, simple Samurai flick with an easy-flowing action formula to be endlessly replicated in the near future. Luckily enough, some scenes still stink of cinematic wonder, especially the fantastic final showdown.
Classic telephoto action.
Story is rather simple and the characters have little to no development but it is still interesting to see how everything plays out.
The direction is one of the best elements. Take note of where characters are placed in the frane as well as reoccurring symbols.
Watching this it's pretty clear to anyone that A fist full of dollars owes almost its entire existence to this Japanese classic. Almost from the very beginning, right down to the performances, direction, and script, this has the feel of a classic Leone western as the guy clearly helped himself to bits and pieces. And he must have figured that he'd largely get away with it because so few western people at the time would have ever actually had the chance to even know about this far-east hit. For anyone interested in classic Asian films, or just classic films in general, this is a must-watch that's well worth tracking down. There's a fair share of action, fun, and sheer entertainment value to be had from this quality, and still watchable first rate winner.
So when I say "Yojimbo" is possibly the best action movie ever made, what I mean is that it utilizes action, perhaps, better than any movie I've seen. Kurosawa's ability to craft propulsive narrative is virtually unmatched and "Yojimbo" clips along at a perfect pace, so when the brief bursts of violence come-- and boy do they-- they're part of a unified whole: a story we're actually invested in with well-rounded characters, clever humor, and purposeful events.
And it's that "story" thing that so many action films-- particularly those of the last decade or so-- tend to fumble, with a tendency towards overcompensation through massive spectacle and overblown CGI. And yet few blockbusters I've seen in my life can compare to the nail biting tension and fist-pumping satisfaction that comes with every single action beat of "Yojimbo."
When Mifune's ronin finally marches back into town for his last duel, only 8 minutes remain in the film's runtime, yet Hollywood would argue you need at least 30 to put together an awesome finale.
Turns out Kurosawa needs less than 1 (the other 7 are for the denouement).
- 'Yojimbo' is a 1961 Japanese drama period action film, directed by Akira Kurosawa. The black-and-white film tells the story of a ronin, who enters a town where two crime lords are at war with each other. This intriguing plot formed the inspiration for the spaghetti western 'A Fistfull of Dollars', starring Clint Eastwood. I did enjoy the film, although I'm no big fan of the genre. I do feel that there is a lot of humor and likeable characters in 'Yojimbo'.
A masterless samurai wanders around a seemingly empty town. After meeting the local constable, he learns that the town is divided between two crime lords: Seibei, the owner of the brothel, and Ushitora, who is recruiting mercenaries. The samurai decides to stay and might help the gang that gives him the biggest reward. But when innocent townspeople get involved, our hero feels it's time to step in and end the feud between the two clans for once and for all...