A Fistful of Dollars and collapsing yojimbo into a single movie

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It is believed that Akira Kurosawa's Yojimbo film, released in 1961, significantly inspired the work of Sergio Leone, an Italian film director, who later produced almost an identical film known as Fistful of Dollars in 1964. The latter film revolutionized not only the Western but also the Western Italian as a genre. About the cultural policies, the tone, and the country of origin that distinguish the two films, the protagonists nevertheless have common motives. This article would cover a variety of elements that will be preserved and used in the two films if they could collapse into one. Parts to be retained from Kurosawa’s Version

The comparison between the two movies clearly manifests the presence of a heroism theme. In Kurosawa’s version, there is Mifune’s Sanjuro while in Leone’s film there is Clint Eastwood. They are both presented in their respective pictures as heroes who are characterized as not talkative (Bailey, n.d. and Leonard 174). Upon collapsing the two movies into one, Mifune's Sanjuro would be the most preferred character to be retained because he can manifest his heroism more than Clint Eastwood. He is not presented as just a person who is out to make some easy money, but the one who is caught at a crossroad of the history of the country while trying to begin a new life (Anderson, n.d.). Since he shares a history with Samurai, it is clear that he had a strong code of honor, as well as a strong sense of right and wrong. His heroism is manifested through his ability to clean up the villainy and scum in the town (Gray, n.d.).

The second part that would be retained in Yojimbo is the villain who plays a critical role in exposing Mifune as a powerful man. The use of weaponry – swords, and guns – appears to play out well in Yojimbo than A Fistful of Dollars. Mifune uses ‘Katana,’ his sword, to fight Unosuke, the villain, who had a gun. Unosuke is created as the smartest, cruelest, and meanest member of the gang. By bringing a gun to a swordfight, Kurosawa made the movie even more interesting (Arslan 442). It would not matter how Mifune was tough with his sword. The presence of a gun demystifies the superior art of using a sword. However, to reveal the heroism and the ‘manly’ attribute at war, Kurosawa creates a way out of for Mifune in the sword-gun drama (Sayles, n.d.). He was able to beat Onusuke despite having the gun (Crowther, n.d.). It was a manifestation of Mifune’s advantages and strengths over his rival. This part is worth retaining while creating one movie from the two because it is more interesting compared to the part of A Fistful of Dollars where both the villain, Ramon, and the hero, Clint Eastwood, use guns to fight (Hutchinson 180).

Parts to use from Leone’s Version

The Western genre as showcased in A Fistful of Dollars is distinctive compared to that of Japan. This informs the choice of goons in A Fistful of Dollars over those of Yojimbo. The two gangs members in Yojimbo almost look the same and their names also sound the same (McCutchen, n.d.). They have similar physical traits, and this makes it difficult to distinguish them from an audience point of view. The audience finds it hard to differentiate between the members of Ushitora's gang and members of Seibei crew (McCutchen, n.d.). In A Fistful of Dollars, the gangs are instantly identifiable. They include the villainous Mexicans and the boring white guys. Unlike in Yojimbo where Mifune spends much time playing both sides of the gang, in A Fistful of Dollars, it is easy to figure out the contest between the hero and the specific gang. The audience has an easy time to identify the gang that has the upper hand. The fact that the Rojos are depicted as the evilest means that they pose the greatest threat to the hero compared to their counterparts – the Baxters – who are hardly given time on the screen (Crowther, n.d.). Therefore, the contest is more visible for the audience – the Mexicans versus Clint Eastwood (McCutchen, n.d.).

In the process of integrating the two movies, it would also be more interesting to borrow the moral aspect of Clint Eastwood than that of Mifune. This is because little is known about Eastwood other than being an American. This creates suspense among the audience and suspicion among the gangs. Having retired from being a warrior, Mifune is seen as an unkempt, dirty man who is interested in money (McCutchen, n.d.). Although he eventually shows a definite code of conduct, the fact remains that he is not anonymous like Eastwood. Eastwood appears to be moral because of his tendency to help innocent families escape from gangs. He was a moral hero who the audience can learn something from him (McCutchen, n.d.).


The two movies, A Fistful of Dollars and Yojimbo share the same story and motivations. However, there are some parts of Yojimbo which would be preferred to be retained if the two would be collapsed into one movie. They include the heroic nature of Mifune and the weaponry use part. In the A Fistful of Dollars, the parts that would be used include the one of the goons and the moral part of Eastwood.

Works Cited

Anderson, Kyle. “Rampant Remakery: Yojimbo vs. A Fistful of Dollars.”Nerdist, 2014. http://nerdist.com/rampant-remakery-yojimbo-vs-a-fistful-of-dollars/.Accessed 26 July 2017.

Arslan, Savaş. "World Cinema's ‘Dialogues’ with Hollywood."Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Televisionvol. 30 no.3, 2010, pp. 441-443.

Bailey, Jason. “How Kurosawa’s ‘Yojimbo’ became Leone’s ‘Fistful of Dollars’.’’ Flavorwire, 2014. http://flavorwire.com/483644/how-kurosawas-yojimbo-became-leones-fistful-of-dollars. Accessed 26 July 2017.

Crowther, Bosley. “Screen: ‘A Fistful of Dollars’ Opens: Western Film Clinches All used in Movie Cowboy Star from TV Featured as Killer.”The New York Times, 2 Feb., 1967.http://www.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9B03E1DD1439E53BBC4A53DFB466838C679EDE. Accessed 26 July 2017.

Crowther, Bosley. “Yojimbo.”The New York Times, 16 Oct. 1962.http://www.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=EE05E7DF173CAF2CA5494CC0B7799E8D6896. Accessed 26 July 2017.

Gray, Richard. “My Favorite Film: Yojimbo.”SBS, 2010.http://www.sbs.com.au/movies/article/2010/08/25/my-favourite-film-yojimbo. Accessed 26 July 2017.

Hutchinson, Rachael. A fistful of Yojimbo: Appropriation and dialogue in Japanese cinema. World Cinema’s ‘Dialogues’ with Hollywood. Palgrave Macmillan UK, 2007.

Leonard, Kendra. "The Future is the Past." Space and Time:Essays on Visions of History in Science Fiction and Fantasy,edited by Austin Allan, McFarland,2010, pp.174.

McCutchen, Steve. “The Men with No Name: Yojimbo vs A Fistful of Dollars.”Cavalcade of Awesomeness, 2009.https://stevemccutchen.wordpress.com/2009/07/29/the-men-with-no-name-yojimbo-vs-a-fistful-of-dollars/. Accessed 26 July 2017.

Sayles, John. “Filmmakers on Film: John Sayles on Yojimbo.”The Telegraph, 2002. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/3580047/Filmmakers-on-film-John-Sayles-on-Yojimbo.html. Accessed 26 July 2017.

October 13, 2022
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