Sanjuro (1962)

November 17, 2003 • Film, Reviews

AKA: Tsubaki Sanjûro

[dir: Akira Kurosawa; prod: Ryuzo Kikushima, Tomoyuki Tanaka; writer: Ryuzo Kikushima, Akira Kurosawa, Hideo Oguni, Shugoro Yamamoto (novel)]

Cast: Toshirô Mifune, Tatsuya Nakadai, Keiju Kobayashi, Yuzo Kayama, Reiko Dan, Akihiko Hirata, Takashi Shimura, Kamatari Fujiwara, Takako Irie.

Running Time: 96 min.

Plot: A group of idealistic young men, determined to clean up the corruption in their town, are aided by a scruffy, cynical samurai who does not at all fit their concept of a noble warrior.


An unusual move for Kurosawa: a sequel. But rather than cannibalizing the successful elements of his film Yojimbo, Kurosawa takes the Yojimbo character (who assumes the name Sanjuro for business purposes) and propels him in a totally different direction.
In fact, Kurosawa approaches this movie with a very different style and tone than he employed for Yojimbo. This time, the proceedings are light, funny, and somewhat mannered. The Sanjuro character is not so much a fearsome warrior as he is a babysitter, protecting nine young men who are so blinded by their determination to be righteous samurai that they can’t between them exercise one bit of common sense.

While Yojimbo was embraced by the young generation for it’s cynical wit and gruesome action, it was an older generation that liked Sanjuro. More than its predecessor, the film is interested in the importance of refinement and clear thinking. Mifune is once again brilliant as the vagabond samurai, and the always excellent Tatsuya Nakadai comes back as a villain much different than his villain in Yojimbo.

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