Short and sweet. If you haven't seen Yojimbo, go rent that before this. If you haven't seen Seven Samurai, go rent that before Yojimbo. And once you've done those two, graduate to Sanjuro.Akira Kurosawa's continuation of Yojimbo is more of the same, but it's damn fun stuff. Toshiro Mifune is The Samurai. A busted up old warrior who goes through life treating the common man as a God would treat humanity. As an amusement, yet he maintains a bothersome duty to protect them.
But the fighting and swordplay are not the primary focus. The focus is the superb Mifune, who has a funny/angry/pained/heroic/modest/nasty demeanor about him that Bruce Willis could only beg the Gods to instill on him. Kurosawa's films such as this gave birth to the storylines that today's blockbusters so ineffectually recycle, from A Bug's Life to The Magnificent Seven to The Professional, to John Woo to A Fistful Of Dollars, there's ties stretching back to Kurosawa.
In Sanjuro, The Samurai stumbles across a group of men seeking to report their corrupt superintendent to the local chief, but who is really corrupt and who is honorable? How does a group of nine men who can only trust themselves (or can they?) outfight and/or outwit an entire army and save those taken hostage?As said before, the fighting isn't the object. The twists in the tale and the performance of Mifune bring so much more to this film, and the two previously mentioned, than Hollywood is capable of today. This movie won't be for everybody. It's black and white, it's old, and it's subtitled, but it's something you can't and won't look away from.