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Tuesday

Worth a look: Sanjuro

Sanjuro is a sequel to Yojimbo, in which the samurai with no name returns to aid a group of young men. The youngsters mean well in trying to save their town, but they are young and carry swords and think every problem can be solved with a bit of slicing. Fortunately, the samurai decides to help them.

Again, the writing is intriguing because it doesn't bother trying to keep us in suspense about what is going on. The focus is always on what is going to be done about it.

Sanjuro is easier to like than Yojimbo was, partly because there are fewer characters to keep track of. There are nine young men, but they stand as a group with a handsome one to speak for them and a not so handsome one to argue the point for them - ironic since it was trusting to the good looks of their enemy that got them into trouble in the first place.

Women have a bigger part to play in Sanjuro. They are not kick-arse fighters. In fact, the chamberlain's wife speaks against violence, but only in the tones of a lady at a tea party, and warns the samurai that he is too much like an unsheathed sword. We sense that she has seen straight through him, and come to understand that he greatly respects her for this. No, the ladies in this film do not kick arse, but they do influence the world about them.

Very much worth a look, from the director Akira Kurosawa, who is probably most famous for his take on the western film genre, Seven Samurai, which was remade in the west as The Magnificent Seven. It's nice to think that Kurosawa's love of Westerns influenced them for the better.