Kurosawa's imagery is alway exciting. [25 Oct 1962, p.16]
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Less visceral than the battle scene in Seven Samurai, this is more of a free-for-all, with brute force leaving no room for skill.
Yojimbo does not cause viewers to ponder deep issues in the way Rashomon does, nor does it possess the epic grandness of The Seven Samurai, yet it must still be considered in the top tier of Kurosawa's films. Stylish, compelling, and involving, it became as much a blueprint for future productions as it is an homage to past ones.
One of the great samurai pictures, its darkly brilliant premise--the cynical mercenary/master swordsman or yojimbo (bodyguard) who walks into a town feud and plays both evil sides against each other--has been copied frequently, most notably in the Sergio Leone-Clint Eastwood A Fistful of Dollars. But Kurosawa's treatment remains the most savage, thrilling, smart and hideously funny. [26 Jan 2007, p.C2]
Something of a textbook example of the perfect crowd-pleaser, Kurosawa’s tale is sociopolitical wish fulfillment via archetypal samurai drama, albeit with a twist or three.
[Kurosawa] was deliberately combining the samurai story with the Western, so that the wind-swept main street could be in any frontier town, the samurai (Toshiro Mifune) could be a gunslinger, and the local characters could have been lifted from John Ford's gallery of supporting actors.