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Yojimbo, a wandering samurai enters a rural town in nineteenth century Japan. After learning from the innkeeper that the town is divided between two gangsters, he plays one side off against the other.


A wandering samurai (Mifune) turns up in a small town torn apart by two feuding factions and hires himself out to both sides, forcing the bad guys to wipe each other out so the peace-loving villagers can get on with it.

Kurosawa "borrowed" the plot either from Goldoni's classic farce A Servant Of Two Masters or (more likely) Dashiell Hammett's private eye novel Red Harvest, and Yojimbo was in turn reworked by Sergio Leone in A Fistful Of Dollars, in which Clint Eastwood's unshaven, uncouth, laconic, superfast gunslinger replaced Mifune's unshaven, uncouth, laconic, superfast swordswinger.

Kurosawa holds the record for remade samurai movies, with Seven Samurai and Rashomon yielding The Magnificent Seven (and Battle Beyond The Stars) and Iron Maze (and The Outrage), although he was prone to the remake habit himself, turning Macbeth and King Lear into Throne Of Blood and Ran.

Less visceral than the battle scene in Seven Samurai, this is more of a free-for-all, with brute force leaving no room for skill.