Friday, April 24, 2009

Samurai Saturday: Apr 25th.



This weeks offering of Samurai Saturday on IFC, is the Kurosawa classic - "Yojimbo". Another great one from Kurosawa, this is probably my 2nd favorite of his work (nothing beats Seven Samurai for me). The tale of a lone ronin working two sides of a gang war to clean up a small town. This is another movie that was remade several times by the west, including the Bruce Willis movie, "Last Man Standing". Here is the IFC synopsis:

1961 | 110 min. | Director: Akira Kurosawa | TVMA
Toshiro Mifune portrays a Samurai who finds himself in the middle of a feud-torn Japanese village. Neither side is particularly honorable, but Mifune is hungry and impoverished, so he agrees to work as bodyguard (or Yojimbo) for a silk merchant (Kamatari Fujiwara) against a sake merchant (Takashi Shimura). He then pretends to go to work for the other, the better to let the enemies tear each other apart. Imprisoned for his "treachery," he escapes just in time to watch the two warring sides wipe each other out. This was his plan all along, and now that peace has been restored, he leaves the village for further exploits. Yes, Yojimbo was the prototype for the Clint Eastwood "Man with No Name" picture A Fistful of Dollars (1964). The difference is that Fistful relies on Eastwood for its success, whereas Yojimbo scores on every creative level, from director Akira Kurosawa to cinematographer Kazuo Miyagawa to Mifune's classic lead performance.

2 comments:

  1. It's worth mentioning that Yojimbo was based on a 1929 Dashiell Hammett novel "Red Harvest", in which the hero is a nameless detective called just the Continental Op.

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  2. The cultural exchange between Westerns and Samurai flicks is straight up fascinating. Looking at the heartfelt tributes to both genres in early D&D no less so. This movie (alongside Seven Samurai) feels SO MUCH like a D&D game to me, it's crazy.

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