Akira Kurosawa's YOJIMBO is unquestionably one of the all-time samurai classics of cinema history.
YOJIMBO is a simple and timeless hard-boiled pulp story translated to a 19th Century Japan setting. An outsider arrives unexpectedly and changes everything -- sets things right and stands up for defenseless. It is a story that has been told a hundred times, but for good reason. A memorable story, with a satisfying premise never gets old and so gets passed on and recontextualized to fit different genres, styles, and storytelling traditions. YOJIMBO is an extraordinary period piece, but also an all-out action bloodbath. Importantly, YOJIMBO is simply one particularly poignant example among many cinematic reworkings of this simple premise. YOJIMBO is a testament to Kurosawa's true style and craftsmanship.
A wandering ronin named Sanjuro (Toshiro Mifune) comes upon a rural town that is divided by two rival gangs. Recognizing that the townspeople are at the mercy of these heartless thugs, Sanjuro decides to play them against each other in an effort to drive both toward extinction. As a samurai for hire, he offers to pledge allegiance to either gang for his services and soon starts a veritable bidding war between the adversaries. His plan goes awry when Unosuke (Tatsuya Nakadai), the son of a prominent gangster, arrives in town with a sword and a gun. A serious bad dude with an attitude to match, Unosuke proves to be Sanjuro's match. Who will be the last one left alive, Sanjuro or Unosuke, at the end of samurai showdown?
YOJIMBO screens on 35mm at the Drafthouse Ritz on Wednesday, April 24th! Tickets are on sale now! (Sam Prime)