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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tales of the master
Akira Kurosawa is one of those directors that requires absolutely no introduction at all... but I'll do it anyway.

In short, Kurosawa was one of the most legendary film directors in cinematic history -- he not only inspired other great directors, but he splintered your basic movie conventions ("Rashomon"), inspired others (the wipe! Slow motion action!) and...
Published on May 16 2010 by E. A Solinas

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "I want three coffins... make that four".
"Yojimbo" is one of the better known films of Japanese director Akira Kurosawa because of its notoriety as the inspiration for Clint Eastwood's "A Fistful of Dollars" (1964) and Bruce Willis' "Last Man Standing" (1996). The film opens with a wandering samurai (Toshiro Mifune) enertering a town being torn apart by bitter business rivals...
Published on Jan. 27 2003 by Steven Y.


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tales of the master, May 16 2010
By 
E. A Solinas "ea_solinas" (MD USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 10 REVIEWER)    (HALL OF FAME)   
Akira Kurosawa is one of those directors that requires absolutely no introduction at all... but I'll do it anyway.

In short, Kurosawa was one of the most legendary film directors in cinematic history -- he not only inspired other great directors, but he splintered your basic movie conventions ("Rashomon"), inspired others (the wipe! Slow motion action!) and created the standard for Japanese action, drama and historical movies. "AK 100: 25 Films by Akira Kurosawa" is basically what it sounds like: twenty five movies by Kurosawa (including some never before released in the U.S.).

It includes all the classic films that Kurosawa is so famous for -- "Seven Samurai," "Sanjuro," "Yojimbo" and "The Hidden Fortress." Kurosawa packs the movies with with brilliant stories of samurai, warlords, feisty princesses, goofy peasants, a wandering nameless ronin who has a penchant for cleaning out filthy corrupt towns, and a band of samurai who are trying to save a village of not-entirely-blameless peasants. The best of them: "Rashomon," in which a woman is raped and a man is murdered, but his killer's identity is the subject of some debate.

And then there are the period movies that people don't usually mention as quickly: "Kagemusha," "The Lower Depths," "Throne of "Blood," "Red Beard," and the Noh-inspired "The Men Who Tread on the Tiger's Tail." With the exception of the last one (a semi-comedic story about a nobleman trying to avoid being killed by his brother), these stories are a bit darker in theme, with lots of cruel warlords, foul Edo apartment buildings, an arrogant young doctor in Edo who clashes with his new boss, and a Japanese-themed retelling of Macbeth. It even includes the brilliant two-part judo saga "Sanshiro Sugata," which were only Kurosawa's first and third movies in his long-ranging career.

Fortunately the box set also emphasizes Kurosawa's movies set in then-current times: it includes darker-hued, gritty movies like "Stray Dog," the propagandic "The Most Beautiful," "I Live In Fear," "Ikiru," "Scandal," "No Regrets For Our Youth," "The Bad Sleep Well," "Drunken Angel," and "High And Low." If anything, these movies have a wider range of topics -- Kurosara delves into darker facets of human nature with stories of revenge, family strife, police work, a dying man's last months, political destruction of people's lives, gangsters and corporate corruption.

But he also strays outside the basic outlines with stories like the lighthearted "One Wonderful Sunday", which focuses on a couple of lovers having a cheap day out in postwar Japan, and "Dodesukaden's" poignant tales of poverty-stricken people in a slum. The most brilliant of the contemporary movies: "Madadayo," the uplifting story of an elderly professor and his students.

"AK 100: 25 Films by Akira Kurosawa" is basically a big collection of Kurosawa's movies, mostly of his more obscure works (including the early stuff) but containing most of his best-known works as well. Most of these have been released by Criterion before, but there are a few that haven't except as some old VHS tapes -- and the entire collection gives a very comprehensive look at the myriad styles and stories that Akira Kurosawa conjured like a magician.

Even from the earliest movies, Kurosawa imbues his movies with many layers: artistic flourishes that were unique at the time (aiming a camera at the sun), blood-spattering action, sly wit and powerful and insightful direction (the final exquisitely bittersweet scene of "Ikiru"). And he got some truly brilliant actors for these movies, most notable Toshiro Mifune -- he played a wide range of brilliant roles, including a crazed bandit, a "red beard" doctor, a powerful general, a Macbethian warlord, and a brilliant nameless ronin. Among others.

But as for the downsides -- for some reason it's missing films like "Ran," "Dreams" and the underrated "Dersu Uzala." And there don't seem to be many on-disc extras here -- there's new digital transfers, a "remembrance," and a book called "The Warrior's Camera: The Cinema of Akira Kurosawa,"

"AK 100: 25 Films by Akira Kurosawa" shows the considerable range of this legendary director, with movies both famous and obscure -- ideally it would have had a few more, but it's still an outstanding collection.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "I want three coffins... make that four"., Jan. 27 2003
"Yojimbo" is one of the better known films of Japanese director Akira Kurosawa because of its notoriety as the inspiration for Clint Eastwood's "A Fistful of Dollars" (1964) and Bruce Willis' "Last Man Standing" (1996). The film opens with a wandering samurai (Toshiro Mifune) enertering a town being torn apart by bitter business rivals. After being informed of the town's situation by the tavern keeper Gonji (Eijiro Tono), the samurai decides to play both rivals against each other in the hope that they will wipe each other out. The plan works and soon the chaos he causes reaches the terminal point. When the samurai finally leaves the town, he leaves behind a load of business for the local coffin maker and a liberated and grateful town. Yojimbo does not possess the depth of The Seven Samurai (1954) and its jumping back and forth between drama and comedy is a bit jarring at times. Yet, the film succeeds in entertaining and lends credence to the argument that Toshiro Mifune is not only one of the greatest Japanese actors of all-time, but is one of the greatest actors of all-time period. Try and catch this movie on DVD because the clarity of the subtitles are vastly superior to that of the VHS version.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A classic, June 16 2014
By 
Rafael Oei - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: Yojimbo the Bodyguard (DVD)
How can I review this? It's been reviewed countless times... it is a classic and will always be... along with Sanjuro and the Seven Samurai.

Delivery-wise, it was really prompt and I have no problems with the packaging and the vendor.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Samurai with a 6 shooter?, Jan. 27 2014
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This review is from: Yojimbo the Bodyguard (DVD)
Our hero did not use a six shooter. One of the "bad" guys did. This 1961 Black and White widescreen- Japanese- with- English- subtitles- movie starts off slowly setting up the characters and helping the audience to get a lay of the land and atmosphere of the film. The dvd was designed for region 2 dvd players but my computer was able to convert, so I watched it on that. After you figure out that two territorial bosses want each other's land, property and servants--(give them about thirty minutes to get that all out of their system)--then the movies starts to truly entertain. There is action, intrigue, comedy, and blood. The sword play is swift so you don't get to see too many great moves but you do get to see severed limbs. Not gory like today's movies. The soundtrack is excellent and uplifting as one begins to realize that Yojimbo does not take life all that seriously but he definitely knows right from wrong and does the right thing. Toshiro Mifune is one of my favorite Japanese actors and is excellent as an itinerant samurai in this movie.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Yojimbo, Oct. 1 2013
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A great edition and a must have for people who enjoy Kurosawa. The extras are very enlightening. Well done criterion collection.
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4.0 out of 5 stars a cool follow up to yojimbo, May 1 2004
By 
Ted "Ted" (Pennsylvania, USA) - See all my reviews
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. In this film, Sanjuro withthe help of some friends eliminate corruption in his town and rescue his uncle was was jailed on trumped up charges. The film has a famous 'splatter' scene in the climax which is almost Hitchcockian because of the filmmakers use of chocloate syrup for the stage blood. (in B&W films, one cannot tell the difference anyway)
The DVD only has a theatrical trailer for a special feature, but it is still worth getting for those interested in films like this.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Kurosawa + Mifune = Magic, Dec 9 2002
By 
Morris's Codex (Phil-a-dump-ia, PA) - See all my reviews
It had been years since I have last seen Yojimbo. When I put the Criterion DVD into my player, I was enthralled by all 110 minutes. Kurosawa has made so many truly classic films, sometimes his other works are overlooked. This film, though not as good as Seven Samurai/Ran/Ikiru/Rashomon is still better then 99% of the films that have ever been made.
In short, the movie is about a lone samurai without allegiance coming to a town of comical loons. The desolate looking town is split between 2 factions, each with their own hired goons. The town is literally being torn apart by them. In walks "Sanjuro" to right the situation!?! Toshiro Mifune is excellent as the no-name, bad mannered, shoulder-shrugging, toothpick-biting samurai. He decides to play each side against the other to start his plan of riding the town of their problem.
The film is wonderfully paced, has nice twists, solid dialogue, great acting and an overall warmness in all aspects. My only problem is not with the movie, but with the DVD. I own many Criterion DVDs and this has to be the worse in overall quality. The print quality was a letdown, surely there must be a better print that was not used.
If you are a "true lover" of film, then I highly recommend this film. You will not be disappointed.
thank you for your time, David
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars When Destiny is as Simple as the Toss of a Stick, Aug. 4 2005
By 
J. H. Sweet - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
The beginning of this tale, when our hero tosses a stick into the air to see which way it lands to choose his path, is just one of the many elements which makes this such an amazing story and one my favorites of Kurosawa's many masterpieces. What the bodyguard chooses to do first with his newfound independence is quite surprising and ambitious, like piecing together an amazingly complex jigsaw puzzle made of human nature, or staging a performance of an epic masterpiece with no previous management, production, or directing skills. But I guess he may as well tackle a mountain, since there is not much use starting small with his skills and personality. As he orchestrates the deception, our hero is much like a master puppeteer with exquisite timing and talent to incite the mayhem to achieve his goal.
While the basic theme of this story is not unique - the result of greed, manipulation of others, and the changing of the world (tradition vs. progression) - many factors add an interesting and unusual charm to this film. There are plots within plots, surprising deception, perfectly paced mounting tension, unpredictable plot twists, stories within stories, distinctive and amusing characters (the big guy with his huge mallet is a lot of fun), the seemingly never-ending face offs, backstabbing, character flaws; and our hero continually placed in the perfect position to observe, listen, and evaluate. Also, the bodyguard's impeccable timing in manipulation of both sides is nice, fulfilling our expectations and keeping the story moving along. What if bodyguards were really like this? (mischievous, brilliant, manipulative) The famous people of the world would be in terrible trouble.
The humor in this story is wonderful, even the macabre humor of the dog carrying the human hand in its mouth while trotting along to fairly spunky music. I also love the funnier fight sequences, which seem to come right out of clown school and resemble football skirmishes instead of battles. In several of the scenes, it appears that the swordsmen are miming roasting marshmallows instead of fighting with their weapons. Nice addition of lightness to a serious tale. Our hero sticking around after he has discontinued his services purely for "the entertainment" also accentuates the humor aspect of this movie.
The mix of character types is also interesting including a dominatrix, a prodigal son, a damsel in distress, several amusing drunks, and many bumbling idiots. The ease in which our hero is able to manipulate these human beings is extremely unbelievable; however, many aspects of this film fall into that category and it is still a wonderful story. This is one of those rare instances in which certain trite, far-fetched, and predictable elements are actually good and serve to enhance the story.
The nature symbolism is a nice addition to this film including the cleansing rain allowing us to shift gears from Act I to Act II, and the dust storm, which precedes the more unpredictable part of the story serving to unsettle and disorient us.
Finally, the shadowy, light dancing, night fires scene is amazing, intensifying the town's debauchery and our hero finally stepping up to get involved in the action before ultimately getting caught in his own web. This scene is perfect, like an expertly lighted stage drawing us into Act III.
I have only described a few of the wonderful features of this film. There are many others, which warrant several viewings to truly appreciate the complexities of this story. For those who enjoy this movie, I also recommend the sequel, Sanjuro, which is equally well done.
J.H. Sweet, author of The Fairy Chronicles, and Kurosawa fan.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars save for a few scratches in the print, this is a great DVD, July 19 2004
By 
Lakan Kildap (Miami, Florida United States) - See all my reviews
I myself am one with those who wonder how on earth this Criterion version of Yojimbo ended up having that huge, ugly scratch mark on the print. It just stops me from giving it a full 5-star mark.
But that aside, this DVD is still a great DVD. It's actually my favorite among the Kurosawa-Mifune movies, simply because it is so much fun. the Mifune swagger, perfectly timed with the catchy beat of the soundtrack, is unforgettable. his huge confidence, his arms still drawn in, his shirt sleeves hanging limp and empty while his enemies menacingly surround him, is almost too funny. The lines I like the most come from the "coffins" chapter, where Mifune tells the wannabes "you have such cute faces", then proceeds to tear through them with ease, then with typical panache, tells the cooper (coffin maker) to make two coffins, no, make that three. I don't think I have seen any Hollywood actor, except perhaps the young Paul Newman, act so cool under stress. Even Clint Eastwood's turn in "A Fistful of Dollars" pales in comparison.
Then of course, the twists and turns as he manipulates both gangs. Even the way he mocks the boss' wife by calling himself a "nobody", taking the name of some vegetable he saw in the garden through the window.
Then his low moments. The way he recovers his strength, the way he prepares to neutralize the enemy's pistol by mastering knife-throwing. You'd think he doesn't stand a chance, until it happens. Those harrowing death scenes. And finally, the sight of Yojimbo leaving town, arms drawn in, sleeves empty and limp on his sides, swaggering to the beat of the soundtrack as the movie ends.
It's worth it. And you can always trade-in that crappy "Last Man Standing" to pay off some of the cost of "Yojimbo". It's a trade I would make anytime.
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4.0 out of 5 stars "I'm not dying yet. I have to kill quite a few men first ", Dec 26 2007
By 
M. B. Alcat "Curiosity killed the cat, but sa... (Hanoi, Vietnam) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
Yesterday I saw "Yojimbo" (1961), a beautiful black and white movie directed by Akira Kurosawa. From my point of view, this dvd isn't Kurosawa best movie, but it is nonetheless a film that is worthwhile watching.

This fast-paced and morally ambivalent story is set in Japan, during the second half of the nineteenth century, a period in which old social structures were destroyed, and faithful samurais where left without masters. Those samurais had to wander in search of employment, and were called "ronin". Sanjuro (Toshirô Mifune), the main character of "Yojimbo", is one of them.

Sanjuro stumbles into a small town that happens to be divided into two warring factions. He soon realizes that those factions are fighting over control of the village, something that seems to him a good opportunity to sell his services to the higher bidder. Sanjuro has flexible standards of morality and won't have misgivings about doublecrossing his momentary allies, when he deems it convenient to earn more money. His ultimate purpose is more complex, though: Sanjuro wants to rid the town of both bands. Unfortunately, his luck and the foolishness of the two bands can only last for so long...

On the whole, I think that this is a very good film, that even those not normally fond of foreign movies will like. Recommended...

Belen Alcat

PS: Kurosawa's best movie is, in my opinion, "Seven samurai".
PS2: The plot of this film was taken in 1964 by Sergio Leone in order to make the first "spaghetti" Western, "A fistful of dollars", starring Clint Eastwood.
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Sanjuro (Criterion Collection) by Akira Kurosawa (DVD - 2007)
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