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Yojimbo (DVD) DVD

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This semi-comic 1961 film by legendary director Akira Kurosawa (Rashomon, Ran) was inspired by the American Western genre. Kurosawa mainstay Toshirô Mifune (Seven Samurai) is cast as a drifting samurai for hire who plays both ends against the middle with two warring factions, surviving on his wits and his ability to outrun his own bad luck. Eventually the samurai seeks to eliminate both sides for his own gain and to define his own sense of honour. Yojimbo is striking for its unorthodox treatment of violence and morality, reserving judgment on the actions of its main character and instead presenting an entertaining tale with humour and much visual excitement. One of the inspirations for the "spaghetti westerns" of director Sergio Leone and later surfacing as a remake as Last Man Standing with Bruce Willis, this film offers insight into a director who influenced American films even as he was influenced by them. --Robert Lane, Amazon.com

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Classic Japanese action drama directed by Akira Kurosawa and starring Toshirô Mifune, Eijirô Tôno and Tatsuya Nakadai. Wandering samurai Sanjuro Kuwabatake (Mifune) arrives in a rural town in 19th-century Japan to find it trapped under the competing influences of two rival gangs. Sanjuro becomes determined to free the town from the oppressive grip of the gangsters by playing them against one another. But his plan is complicated by the intervention of a son of one of the gang bosses who forces Sanjuro to retreat and recover before preparing for a final standoff.

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