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Saturday, September 8, 2012

Yojimbo (1961)

An unemployed samurai (Toshiro Mifune), a master of swordsmanship, drifts into a small village where two factions are fighting against each other for control of the town. He sells his services to both factions which will either end up destroying him or destroying the town. One of the most enjoyable examples of Japanese cinema, Akira Kurosawa's near diabolical black comedy manages to be both witty and action packed. The film seems almost an homage to the American western (though its plot is similar to the Hammett novel, RED HARVEST) that it wasn't surprising that a mere three years later, Sergio Leone seamlessly remade the film as the western A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS. Not only one of the best examples of using the scope format (in this case TohoScope), Kurosawa and his cinematographer Kazuo Miyagawa (UGETSU) show how rich black and white cinematography can be. The anachronistic (parts of it sound like a mambo) hyperactive score is by Masaru Sato. With Tatsuya Nakadai, Eijiro Tono, Isuzu Yamada and Daisuke Kato, whose face you can never forget.

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