Remastered Criterion Collection Edition
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A free-lance samurai works both sides of the street in a village split by warring merchants. Directed by Akira Kurosawa.
The Criterion Collection's 2007 disc is a must-have for any serious cinephile. The film is presented with an all-new, fully restored high-definition digital transfer, representing (as in the case of Seven Samurai) a significant improvement over Criterion's previous DVD release. It features a full-length commentary by Kurosawa scholar Stephen Prince (with eloquent emphasis on camera movement and composition) in addition to a retrospective documentary culled from the priceless Japanese Toho Masterworks series Akira Kurosawa: It Is Wonderful to Create, featuring illuminating interviews with many of Kurosawa's closest collaborators. A theatrical trailer and behind-the-scenes photo gallery are also included, along with new-and-improved subtitles, insightful booklet essays, and rarely seen production notes by Kurosawa and members of his cast and crew. With this reissue, Criterion's previous release of Yojimbo should now be considered officially obsolete. --Jeff Shannon
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Toshiro Mifune stars as the no-name samurai who will benefit from the war going on between two gangs in one of these out-of-the-law towns. At this point, if you're an average movie lover, you will have recognized in YOJIMBO several themes used two or three years later by numerous italo-american filmmakers responsible for the revival of the western genre between 1962 and 1970.
In fact, while I was admiring the skill of Toshiro Mifune, I couldn't refrain myself from counting the numerous situations borrowed by Sergio Leone in his Eastwood trilogy. Close-ups of the ugly faces of the outlaws, use of the widescreen format in order to film in the best possible way the streets duels, a musical score which haunts your mind and is part of the action, bloody details (the hand in the dog's mouth...) and a great sense of humor.
I love Sergio Leone's movies but I think that it's of the utmost importance or simply by politeness to remember that YOJIMBO is the first Spaghetti western and that Akira Kurosawa has practically invented the myth of the no-name stranger.
A scene access, colour bars and a trailer as bonus features. Great sound for a great musical score but, unfortunately, a master copy with such defaults as lines or white and black spots.
A pre-Clint DVD.
On another level, "Yojimbo" shows Kurosawa's feelings about the encroaching capitalism and it's effect on Japanese culture. The businessmen have replaced the outlaw bandits and the villains. In a normal world, the corrupt Yakuza would swarm over the innocent workers and corrupt their children. Here, Kurosawa embodies a force of resistance. A samurai who can pit sword against pistol and out-fight ten men at once. He is a hero.
It is precisely these metaphors that lifts "Yojimbo" beyond a simple chambra (swordfight) flick, and make it a Kurosawa movie. I highly recomend this film.
Sit down with some fried rice, a bottle of sake (don't forget to warm it) and ENJOY!