Yojimbo (movie)

From Academic Kids

Yojimbo 用心棒 is a 1961 film by Akira Kurosawa, in which a ronin, portrayed by Toshiro Mifune, arrives at a small town with competing crime lords making their money from gambling, and convinces each crime lord to hire him as protection from the other. By careful political manouevring and the use of his sword, he brings peace by encouraging both sides to wipe each other out.

The film's look and themes were inspired by several sources, including John Ford's western film conventions including the canonical taciturn loner and the helpless townsfolk needing a protector. Its cinematography mimics conventional shots in western films including that of the lone hero in a wideshot, facing an enemy or enemies from a distance when the wind kicks up dust between the two. Another important influence was the film noir classic The Glass Key from 1942. This film, which starred Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake and is adapted from the novel by Dashiell Hammett is cited by Kurosawa as his inspiration. The plot of Yojimbo is actually much closer to another Hammett novel, Red Harvest, a fact which has led to many unsubstantiated rumors that Red Harvest was the real inspiration.

Yojimbo was later remade as A Fistful of Dollars, a spaghetti western directed by Sergio Leone and starring Clint Eastwood, Yaju no seishun (Youth of the Beast), a modern Japanese yakuza crime movie directed by Seijun Suzuki and starring Jo Shishido, and remade, yet again, in a 20th century "gangster" genre, as Last Man Standing, starring Bruce Willis.


  • It is frequently asserted in Internet newsgroups and on websites that the plot is inspired by the book Red Harvest by Dashiell Hammett. Kurosawa never acknowledged such an influence.
  • An anime series produced by Kurosawa Productions in 2001 entitled Kaze no Yojimbo (literally Bodyguard of the Wind) retold the story of the original film by setting it in the modern era. Many of the characters and events in the series are analogous to characters and events in Yojimbo, but additional subplots and characters were added in order to sustain it as a twenty-five episode TV series and to distinguish itself from Akira Kurosawa's film.
  • The 1962 film Sanjuro is often said to be a sequel to Yojimbo. It is also directed by Kurosawa and stars Mifune. The protaganists of both films are scruffy, cynical samurai operating in the 19th century. It is never explicitly stated that they are the same character, but they seem identical to many observers.

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