In Medieval Japan, an elderly warlord retires, handing over his empire to his three sons. However, he vastly underestimates how the new-found power will corrupt them and cause them to turn on each other...and him.
An elder ronin samurai arrives at a feudal lord's home and requests an honorable place to commit suicide. But when the ronin inquires about a younger samurai who arrived before him things take an unexpected turn.
A wandering samurai, Sanjuro, is drawn into local politics. The Superintendent of a clan is plotting to take over the clan by implicating the Chamberlain in corrupt activities (activities the Superintendent is actually responsible for). Part of the plan involves killing off the Chamberlain's staff and, in protecting them, Sanjuro sides with them. The supporters are massively outnumbered so it will require all of Sanjuro's cunning and swordcraft to ensure the Superintendent does not succeed in his evil plan.Written by
Tsubaki Sanjuro is, unfortunately, not so widely seen abroad (= outside Japan) as Yojinbo, probably because it was not copied as a western. In Japan, however, Tsubaki Sanjuro is not less popular than Yojinbo. Not a few Japanese actually prefer the former to the latter, and it's easy to see why: It is stylistically more polished and smarter than Yojimbo and Mifune is 'cooler' as well - he shows a brilliant leadership and every Mifune fan would be really delighted to see how his young, naive disciples run after him like chicks following the mother duck.
And while Yojinbo's female main character, Orin, is an evil and crafty woman, Lady Mutsuta in Tsubaki Sanjuro is 'irritatingly light-hearted'. But she has a deep insight into Sanjuro's personality and understands him far better than his male disciples. An excellent character, and, in fact, she is the only person in Tsubaki Sanjuro AND Yojinbo to whom Sanjuro/Mifune speaks in a polite form (in Japanese).
Tsubaki Sanjuro is, so to speak, a 'concentrate' of Kurosawa's cinematography and one sees in it every aspect of his greatness in a very compact form. Therefore no one could remake this movie.
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