Toshiro Mifune swaggers and snarls to brilliant comic effect in Kurosawa's tightly paced, beautifully composed Sanjuro. In this companion piece to Yojimbo, jaded samurai Sanjuro helps an idealistic group of young warriors weed out their clan's evil influences, and in the process turns their image of a "proper" samurai on its ear. Criterion is proud to present Sanjuro in a gorgeous Tohoscope transfer.
Akira Kurosawa's sequel to Yojimbo is more lighthearted and less cynical, a rousing adventure with Toshirô Mifune reprising his role as the scruffy mercenary who becomes an unlikely big brother to a troupe of nine naive samurai. Shuffling into a secret meeting where the proud young men discuss the graft choking their clan, Mifune's Sanjuro scratches his scraggly beard and distractedly rubs his neck like some common peasant while giving them advice on appearances and truths: "People aren't what they seem," he warns the dubious lads. "Be careful." Naturally they aren't, and Sanjuro grudgingly adopts the well-meaning but hopelessly ill-equipped heroes, giving the starry-eyed youths a series of lessons in real-world honor and respect while saving their skins from reckless attacks and impulsive plans. It isn't the subtlest of Kurosawa's films--the repetitious lessons and speeches delivered to the thickheaded samurai are rather obvious--but it's one of his most entertaining. Mifune, gruffly at ease with the boys, is hilariously discomforted in the presence of a cultured lady, who sees through his shaggy exterior and imparts a little wisdom of her own. Mifune bounds into action in a number of impressive sword fights--wonderfully choreographed lightning-quick battles in which Mifune leaps all over the widescreen image--but an increasing sense of waste, of futility, hangs over the action scenes, culminating in a tense but meaningless duel of honor. The accompanying trailer on the DVD features brief behind-the-scenes glimpses of Kurosawa directing Mifune through an action sequence. --Sean Axmaker
In my own opinion, I find Sanjuro to be one of my favorite films by the Kurosawa. Unlike Yojimbo, which mainly showed the violent side of humans, Sanjuro shows a much deeper... Read morePublished on May 21 2004 by Tom Tsukuhara
This review is for the Criterion Collection DVD edition of the film.
This film released shortly after the release of Yojimbo, has the same main character. Read more
Before seeing a Toshiro Mifune film I wasn't into Samurai movies....now I'm hooked. Sanjuro tells the story of a masterless Samurai who tries to help some naive and bumbling... Read morePublished on Jan. 27 2004
Kurosawa and Mifume make a memorable film on what could have been just standard material. Mifume is the samurai in the middle of a political struggle who uses his cunning and... Read morePublished on Aug. 28 2003
Yet another fine example of how films should be done, Sanjuro is a continuation of Yojimbo; I hesitate to call it a sequel due to the common belief that sequels are always inferior... Read morePublished on July 29 2003
Who would have thunk you could have a funny samurai movie? I guess you can have comedic westerns, so why no a humorous samurai? Read morePublished on July 23 2003 by Craig Matteson
Sure it isn't as good as Yojimbo, but that doesn't detract from it in the least. Mifune swaggers with the best of them, and watching him trying to keep his over-eager swordsmen in... Read morePublished on May 4 2003 by TH
Kurosawa only made two sequels in his lifetime, "Sanshiro Sugata II," and "Sanjuro." "Sanshiro Sugata II" was a government-suggested sequel and basically a war-time propaganda... Read morePublished on March 26 2003 by Zack Davisson
Yojimbo's sequel, Sanjuro, while surely the lesser film, is no less enjoyable. Originally a different story that was later rewritten for Mifune's samurai character, this time... Read morePublished on March 3 2003 by Craig Clarke