Classic Review: Yojimbo

By contributor Patrick Zabriskie

Stars: ★★★★

Summary: An incredibly well made action film that set the bedrock for others to come.

Review: It wasn’t long after first viewing ‘A Fistful of Dollars’ that I found out that the landmark spaghetti-western was, in fact, a remake of a Japanese film made just a few years earlier. The film was 1961’s ‘Yojimbo’, directed by the master himself, Akira Kurosawa, and it is every bit as good as its western counterpart.

If you’ve seen ‘Fistful’, you know the plot of ‘Yojimbo’. A skilled warrior wanders into a small town engulfed in civil war and sets out to return peace in his own violent way. Most of the scenes, too, match up almost perfectly. The only major change is where the films take place. ‘Fistful’, obviously, was set in the Old West, while Yojimbo takes place some time during the lengthy samurai-period of Japan. Where Yojimbo truly differs is in its main character. He has all the skill, intelligence, and pure machismo of the Man With No Name, yet he comes across as more human. He’s more humorous and more prone to outbursts. I find him more entertaining, if not quite so iconic.

This film features great fight choreography, an impressive villain, and, what was then a fairly unique premise. It’s a smart and well-directed film with beautiful cinematography and an impressive score. I can think of few action films of this quality. It is a must see for fans of samurai films, action films, spaghetti-westerns, or just films in general. Akira Kurosawa proves once again in ‘Yojimbo’ that he is the master, plain and simple.

Buy It From Amazon: Yojimbo (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]

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