Japan, 1961, 110 mins. Director: Akira Kurosawa. Stars: Toshiro Mifune, Eijiro Tono, Seizaburo Kawaza.
Some of Kurosawa's best films were inspired by classic Hollywood Westerns, and they in turn inspired the Western-makers. Yojimbo, for example, provided the inspiration for Sergio Leone's classic A Fistful of Dollars, and its star, Toshiro Mifune, is every bit as charismatic as Clint Eastwood in the later film.
Mifune plays the samurai equivalent of the "lone gun for hire" who finds his services are much in demand in a town populated by two feuding families. The warrior ends up teaching everyone a few lessons about the gravity of battle, the importance of honour, and all that samurai stuff. (Come to think of it, Clint Eastwood's been playing Mifune's role in every Western he's made.) Although it has none of the explicit violence of today's films (it hardly needs it), Yojimbo never fails to hold the viewer's attention, and never fails to entertain.