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Yojimbo (The Criterion Collection)

217 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

This semi-comic 1961 film by legendary director Akira Kurosawa (Rashomon, Ran) was inspired by the American Western genre. Kurosawa mainstay Toshirô Mifune (The Seven Samurai) plays a drifting samurai for hire who plays both ends agai

Special Features

  • Luminous Tohoscope transfer
  • New & Improved English Subtitle Translation

Product Details

  • Actors: Toshirô Mifune, Eijirô Tôno, Tatsuya Nakadai, Yôko Tsukasa, Isuzu Yamada
  • Directors: Akira Kurosawa
  • Writers: Akira Kurosawa, Ryûzô Kikushima
  • Producers: Akira Kurosawa, Ryûzô Kikushima, Tomoyuki Tanaka
  • Format: Black & White, Dolby, Letterboxed, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: Japanese (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: September 28, 1999
  • Run Time: 110 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (217 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 0780022513
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #124,236 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Yojimbo (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

51 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Gary F. Taylor HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 6, 2003
Format: DVD
Although it lacks the scope of THE SEVEN SAMURAI, THRONE OF BLOOD, and other more widely known films by the celebrated Akira Kurosawa, the 1961 YOJIMBO (also known as BODYGUARD) is one of the most important films of the second half of the 20th Century--and a film that was deeply influenced by American film. Even so, YOJIMBO stands on its own merits: it's a magnificent piece of cinema that will fascinate even those who normally turn up their noses at "movies with subtitles."

In theory, the film is based on the 1929 Dashiell Hammett novel RED HARVEST--but transports the basic story to a period in Japan when the Samurai class has fallen on hard times and must seek employment as common body guards. Sanjuro Kuwabatake (brilliantly played by Toshiro Mifune, who appeared in several Kurosawa films) is such a one, a scruffy looking and aging warrior who finds himself caught between warring factions of a Japanese village and responds by playing the two against each other.

One of the film's greatest assets is its visual style. Kurosawa is very clearly influenced by the look of the American western here, and most particularly so, in my opinion, by HIGH NOON. Consequently, YOJIMBO leaps the cultural divide with considerable ease--but Kurosawa uses the images of empty streets and the lone warrior to considerably different effect, presenting him as a dangerous figure who emerges from the dust and the wind to rip wide his foes. But the film does not rely on visual style alone: there is plenty of hard substance here, too. The plot is tightly wound, action-intensive, and laced with a dry and very black humor, and the cast is superlative throughout.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Wheelchair Assassin on September 14, 2006
Format: DVD
Those looking for redeeming social messages might want to look elsewhere, but if you're in the mood for a violent, stylishly shot, and decidedly nihilistic good time you should be sure to give Yojimbo a look. Presaging the role Clint Eastwood would soon make famous in the Sergio Leone's spaghetti westerns, not to mention countless action-movie leading men since, Yojimbo helped to introduce the concept of the amoral antihero as main character, as well as give cinema (Japanese or otherwise) one of its all-time most fascinating figures. Played by the great Toshiro Mifune at his glowering, imperious best, samurai-turned-drifter Sanjuro Kuwabatake is one of film history's great protagonists-hard drinker (don't interrupt Sanjuro when he's enjoying his sake), master strategist, seemingly peerless swordsman, and unapologetic self-seeker. He's the kind of guy you can't help but like; even if his actions would be considered reprehensible in most times and places, at least he doesn't proclaim any lofty ideals or lay claim to any moral high ground while killing people. As a samurai with no master and no clan to owe allegiance to, going through a time of flux in Japan, Sanjuro enters a world where old values don't apply and he has only his own survival to think about. Since he's found himself where life is cheap, the movie seems to be saying, Sanjuro's actions, underhanded or not, are as justifiable as anyone else's. Besides, as Sanjuro himself notes, at least the people he kills are even worse than he is.

Anyway, as the movie opens, Sanjuro wanders into a town where commerce is at a virtual stop (with the exception of the local undertaker's business, which is thriving) and the factions of two local bosses are fighting each other for dominion.
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80 of 93 people found the following review helpful By JediFonger on January 12, 2010
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Thank you so much Criterion for releasing all of their licensed Akira Kurosawa films in a single boxset! This is one epic collection in every sense of the word!

Most arm-chair critics do not take into account or acknowledge companies like Criterion need to pay royalties for the right to release films! And the royalty often come with an expiration date. An example of this is Kurosawa's 1985 film RAN was released on DVD and was scheduled to be released on Blu-ray only to have the rights expired. It was reverted back to Studio Canal, who eventually decided to release their own Blu-ray/DVD instead (at the time of this writing). Royalties/licenses are primary reasons why the following 5 titles are missing from this collection to make it COMPLETE:

The Quiet Duel
Dersu Uzala
Rhapsody in August

I'm not an industry insider nor do I work for Criterion so I do not know the business decisions those 5 films aren't included in this collection. Remember, Criterion is business first, film purist second. My guess is it is not for the lack of trying to obtain the rights to release those 5 in this boxset. It's possible that either the license/copyright owners want too much money or there might not have been a great film print to begin with and it would take even longer for a set like this to be released! It's not like Criterion is sitting around with nothing to do =P. So, it isn't really Criterion's fault for not including every single film Akira Kurosawa has directed! This boxset is already monumental for the fact that Criterion took the time to do it in the first place! For that, I am grateful!
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