Sanjuro (Mifune), a wandering samurai (rōnin), arrives in a small town where competing crime lords vie for supremacy. After proving his skill as a master swordsman by swiftly dispatching three thugs, the two bosses each seek to hire the newcomer as a bodyguard, with a view to eradicating their opponent and securing control of the town’s lucrative gambling and illegal trades. Sanjuro succeeds in playing the gangs off against each other, eventually ridding the town of them both.
Widely regarded as one of the best films by Kurosawa and one of the greatest films ever made, Yojimbo was unofficially remade by Sergio Leone as the Spaghetti Western, A Fistful of Dollars (1964), leading to a lawsuit by the Japanese studio Toho.
‘Without Yojimbo, certain key aspects of Western cinema would not be the same today.’ James Berardinelli, ReelViews
“(The film contains) comedy, satire, folk tale, action movie, Western, samurai film, and something like a musical without songs. As everyone says, this work is not as deep as Rashomon or as immediately memorable as Seven Samurai. But it is funnier than any Western from either side of the world, and its only competition, in a bleaker mode, would be Clint Eastwood’s The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976)”. James Wood. LRB