Eventually some other characters stand out to throw a wrench into Sanjuro's plans. The son of the sake brewer, Unosuke (Tatsuya Nakadai), is introduced into the plot as Sanjuro's rival. He's a pistol-toting badass who quickly asserts himself as a fearsome person, though he doesn't display much in the way of sword abilities. Inevitably the film comes down to a showdown between the dark forces of the town and Sanjuro, and naturally Unosuke is a part of that.
When examining Yojimbo as a film there are a few things that stand out almost immediately. For starters the atmosphere is undeniably unique. Kurosawa's vision brought through some incredible moments here and everything, from the music direction to the cinematography and action, comes together in an East meets West kind of ordeal that feels like no other. Adding to that layer of mystique is a darkly comedic vibe that uses dialogue and visuals for laughs, which really helps break up the foreboding tone that blankets everything.
Probably the biggest thing about Yojimbo that stands out as a shining reason to watch it is Mifune's portrayal of Sanjuro. Of course Mifune was a legendary Japanese actor, but his role in this film is downright iconic. From the awkward twitch of his shoulders to the way he carries himself and spits out dialogue, Mifune comes across as the ultimate badass. This is still the case even when Sanjuro is taking his lumps and up against seemingly impossible odds. Going along with the western motif in Yojimbo, Mifune's performance here can be compared to Clint Eastwood's character from "The Man with No Name" trilogy.
Whether you've seen Yojimbo before or not, all you really need to know is that it's classic Japanese cinema and a downright awesome samurai flick. It's a period piece done in a fashion that only Kurosawa could do and I dear say that Mifune absolutely makes this film as priceless as it is. It's a classic among classics and deserves to be in the collection of anyone who appreciates older films.
Criterion's remastered standard definition DVDs looked pretty darn good, but they hardly hold a candle to the spectacular transfer available for this Blu-ray release. Presented in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio, 1080p resolution, and encoded with MPEG-4 AVC, Criterion's Yojimbo is truly a force to be reckoned with. Seriously, for a film that was originally released in 1961, the cleanup job done for this disc was simply astounding!
From top to bottom the picture is crystal clear with hardly a moment that seems out of focus or flawed in any way. Every scene strikes an appropriate balance between blacks and whites, and every single detail from blades of grass, panels of wood, or even patterns on the costumes stand out. The image is free of dirt and scratches, there's no compression of any kind, and the only thing that's even worth mentioning is a minor flickering that takes place in a few scenes. I never imagined that Yojimbo could look as good as it does here. Hats off to Criterion!