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Japan 1962
Directed by
Akira Kurosawa
96 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3 stars


After the success of his violent 1961 samurai film, Yojimbo Kurosawa's producers insisted that he make a follow-up and he delivered them this semi-comedic sequel, adapted from a novel, 'Peaceful Days', by Shugoro Yamamoto who also would provide the source material for Kurosawa's later films Red Beard (1965) and Dodes’ka-den (1970).

Reprising his role in Yojimbo, Toshiro Mifune plays the scruffy itinerant samurai, Sanjuro, who takes up the cause of a group of bumbling panty-waists caught amidst inter-clan rivalry. The comedy does not take the form of jokes but is found rather in the way that Kurosawa disposes the latter to make the most of their incompetence in contrast to Sanjuro's effortless self-possession.  Unlike the earlier work this film offers a more chastened view of its main protagonist as an undisciplined killer, a point of view articulated by the chamberlain's wife (Takako Irie) who points out to Sanjuro that "the best sword is one kept in its sheath", a moral which Sanjuro comes to learn to truth of over the course of the narrative.

FYI: The penultimate scene, one which mirrors a similar scene in Yojimbo, involving a "quick draw" sword fight between Sanjuro and his opposite number, Muroto (Tatsuya Nakadai who also played the gunslinger in Yojimbo) and which results in a Tarantino-esque geyser of blood spurting from the latter was actually a effects error but Kurosawa decided to leave it in the film.  The camellias which appear as a prominent motif towards the end of the film were all hand made.




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