Yojimbo (1961)

Drinking Game

Take a Drink: every time you wish a samurai would put on some pants

Take a Drink: anytime anybody makes just the most awesome face

Take a Drink: whenever Mifune sizes someone up with a look

Take a Drink: for every coffin order

Take a Drink: whenever someone tries to pay Mifune off

Take a Drink: whenever the time is announced

Do a Shot: whenever it’s Hammer time


Break it down! Stop, Hammer time!

Community Review


Movie Review

By: Henry J. Fromage (A Toast) –

Almost from its inception, film has proved to be an ouroboros, constantly eating its tail in a cycling and recycling of stories, techniques, and ideas. Anybody who thinks this started with Platinum Dunes and today’s similar rehash hacktories needs to consider that there are 170 Dracula films, a good chunk of them in black and white, or how legends like Howard Hawks and Alfred Hitchcock went back to their own wells multiple times in their careers. Perhaps no director had such a dramatic place in film’s history of influence and reinvention as Akira Kurosawa, however.

Summarized here in awesome snappy video form.

Yojimbo was in many ways an epicenter of this phenomena, a film clearly owing much to classic Westerns like High Noon and John Ford’s oeuvre, which essentially created two dynamic genres of its own, the zankoku eiga “violent samurai” film and the Spaghetti Western. The plot is simple enough, though. Toshiro Mifune is Sanjuro, a masterless samurai who happens on a town torn between two warring criminal factions. Instead of searching for greener pastures, he decides to manipulate them into eliminating each other, and take care of whoever’s left.


Because Toshiro Mifune don’t play that.

A Toast

We’ll talk more tomorrow about how Sergio Leone lifted the plot and much of the scenery of Yojimbo wholesale for his A Fistful of Dollars, kicking off the whole Spaghetti Western genre, but I think Fred Zinnemann may have a few choice words for Kurosawa, so let’s not get too finger-pointy. Simply stated, Yojimbo’s twisty, wry, and heroic scenario makes for a badass Western, Samurai film, and Neo-Western.


Gangster film… not so much.

Akira Kurosawa takes his influences and repackages them into a distinctly Japanese and distinctly Kurosawa whole, imbuing the film with cultural specificity while keeping the themes and heroism timeless. Visually, his sense of framing and composition is virtually unmatched, and his equally adept at using it for comedy, tension, and epic effect. Yojimbo’s also shockingly gory, as Kurosawa doesn’t shy away from the horrors of violence, but also doesn’t glorify them. This lawless town has a mythic aura, but the pain and desperation of those caught in its crossfire is very real.

Masaru Sato’s score is just as idiosyncratic and impressive as Ennio Morricone’s work in the film that Yojimbo inspired. He employs a mixture of traditional Japanese music, jazz, and metronomic wood blocks to great effect, and I always thought the high tempo brothel piece would make a spectacular rap sample.


Stop it with the Z-grade flicks and get on that, Rza!

No discussion of Yojimbo would be complete, though, without discussing the incomparable Toshiro Mifune. He was one of the finest actors of his time (see High and Low for something completely different from him), but this is his most iconic role. He’s effortlessly cool, a sardonic, calm and collected killing machine who easily ranks with the man who stepped into his metaphorical shoes, Clint Eastwood’s Man With No Name, in the upper echelon of cinematic badasses. Tatsuya Nakadai’s crazy-eyed, pistol-wielding antagonist is a worthy foe, but even with nothing but his trusty sword, we know Mifune will be victorious.


Because Toshiro Mifune don’t play that.


Picking a favorite Akira Kurosawa film is kind of like picking a favorite cardinal sense. They’re all pretty awesome, and it’s hard to imagine life without them. Yojimbo is definitely one of the top contenders, though.


About Henry J. Fromage

Movieboozer is a humor website and drinking games are intended for entertainment purposes only, please drink responsibly.

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