Sanjuro, a wandering samurai enters a rural town in nineteenth century Japan. After learning from the innkeeper that the town is divided between two gangsters, he plays one side off against the other. His efforts are complicated by the arrival of the wily Unosuke, the son of one of the gangsters, who owns a revolver. Unosuke has Sanjuro beaten after he reunites an abducted woman with her husband and son, then massacres his father's opponents. During the slaughter, the samurai escapes with the help of the innkeeper; but while recuperating at a nearby temple, he learns of innkeeper's abduction by Unosuke, and returns to the town to confront him. Written by
Bernard Keane <BKeane2@email.dot.gov.au>
Kurosowa, many believe, only shot samurai pictures. Wrong. Obviously: Dersu Uzala, Dodesukaden, Dreams, Ikiru... they have nothing to do with samurai! Others say he told stories of characters trying to redeem themselves or rediscovering themselves. The exception is the Sanjuro duology (Yojimbo & Sanjuro), a world of violence and dark humor. Sanjuro (Mifune, way cooler than Eastwood in Leone's conform copy western), a wandering ronin, arrives in a town where everyone seems to have some criminal history or other and where two warring factions fight for control. He then slowly proceeds to play both ends against one another... for money? for power? no. Simply because they are all scum and deserve to die! And this is where Kurosowa and Mifune's stellar talents really gear in: Sanjuro doesn't try to be cool or dark, he just acts as a casual tourist, and his enigmatic detatchement from the violence around him makes him far more menacing than any of the abjectly evil (and ugly) townsfolk around him... and cool, let's not forget. Yojimbo is Kurosowa's most darkly amusing film and one of Mifune's most brilliant turns. It also spanned a great (though inferior) sequel. I urge you to check this out, just to see what happens when real justice kicks in...
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