Film: Sanjuro

What Wolverine is to the X-Men, Sanjuro (far left) is to these guys.

"You're too sharp. That's your trouble. You're like a drawn sword. Sharp, naked without a sheath. You cut well. But good swords are kept in their sheaths."
Mutsuta's wife to Sanjuro

So, you're Akira Kurosawa, and you've made a pretty successful movie, Yojimbo. You had a good star, Toshiro Mifune, in a role that he was born to playnote  Your story was so good that it'd later get swiped wholesale by Sergio Leone. Disneyland hasn't opened in Japan yet so what do you do? Well, a sequel, obviously but what kind of a sequel?

Clearly, since Yojimbo was a dark, serious adventure featuring a lone man manipulating two criminal organizations into mutual self-destruction, Sanjuro, the sequel, needs to be that same character with not just one, or two, or even three wacky sidekicks, but ten, plus a character who misses out on the whole New York Jewish Mother stereotype only by being Japanese. Oh, and it's, the ending aside, a comedy.

All that said, it's still Akira Kurosawa, so it's a pretty damn good movie regardless.

Sanjuro provides examples of:

  • Affably Evil: Muroto is fastidious and polite, and his sharp mind reminds Sanjuro a little of himself.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: Inverted with Chamberlain Mutsuta and Superintendent Kikui. The Chamberlain describes himself as having a "horse face", which lead the warriors to mistrust him.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Sanjuro kills Muroto, but he's not happy about it, given all he'd learned from Mutsuta's wife.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Sanjuro is an excellent strategist and a Master Swordsman, but he would rather spend more time dozing in a corner of the room rather than participating in the activities of his nine companions.
  • Broken Ace: Sanjuro becomes one by the end after trying and failing not to kill people.
  • Call Back: Sanjuro retains his tendency to make up a name for himself based on what he sees out the door...and again, the false name results in his having to add that his real age is actually "closer to forty".
  • Character Development: Some of the Sidekick!Samurais actually have a change of perspective throughout the course of the movie.
    • As does Sanjuro himself due to the old lady's metaphor of how "a good sword stays in its scabbard."
  • Character Tics: As in Yojimbo, Sanjuro has habits of scratching his head and beard, and hitching his shoulders.
  • Character Title
  • Characterization Marches On: Sanjuro has grown weary of his ruthlessness in Yojimbo and tries to refrain from it in this movie, to no avail.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Sanjuro, endlessly.
  • Deconstructed Trope: Sanjuro's brutal tendencies as a fighter, thanks to wise advice from the Chamberlain's wife.
  • Dragonin Chief: This is what Muroto hopes to be to Superintendent Kikui.
  • Goldfish Poop Gang: What Sanjuro calls the sidekicks in the trailer.
  • Happy Dance: The sidekicks start jumping and cheering once a plan they had going worked. Then they catch themselves once they realise that the enemy is right next door so continue their Happy Dance quieter.
  • Have You Told Anyone Else?: Why the Sidekicks at the beginning of the movie are cluelessly waiting for the villain's agents to arrive and murder them. Fortunately for them, their chatter wakes Sanjuro up and he decides to save their silly asses.
  • Heel-Face Turn: The guard they capture at Mutsuta's mansion has one of these and becomes quite nice. He even points out that Yamyoji Temple has no upper floor, a flaw in the final plan that was overlooked.
  • High-Pressure Blood: Muroto at the very end. It's actually the Ur-Example of the trope in film, and a fine example of Throw It In: the "blood" pump malfunctioned, running at full pressure rather than the intended rate, but the visual effect of the blood and the difficulty of cleaning up the fake "blood" led Kurosawa to just go with it.
  • Idiot Heroes: The nine sidekicks.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Tsubaki Sanjuro, natch. He's lazy, rude, unpleasant, disrespectful to the younger warriors and even insults Mutsuta's wife behind her back, he has no shame for indecent behaviour in public, and he begs for food, defying the proper code of honor. However, he has a stronger moral code than he did in Yojimbo and always watches out for the nine younger warriors even though their idiocy annoys him. And as the prisoner points out, his jab towards the Chamberlain's wife was because he's more comfortable with insults than with sincere compliments.
  • Lighter and Softer: Which oddly makes it more violent than Yojimbo in parts.
  • Manly Tears: Sanjuro is moved to tears after he is forced to kill Muroto in a duel.
    • Particularly, Sanjuro was looking forward to avoiding all unnecessary use of his sword like the old lady said. Circumstances spurned him otherwise, however.
  • Nota Morning Person: Sanjuro, repeatedly. When he's not in any urgent situation, he's usually seen yawning, stretching, scratching his head and neck, etc.
  • Not So Different: Muroto and Sanjuro.
  • One-Man Army: Sanjuro, of course.
  • Reverse Grip: It's how Sanjuro wins the Single-Stroke Battle.
  • Running Gag: Sanjuro getting repeatedly woken or interrupted by the nine other samurai as they bustle about giving information.
    • The guard keeps coming out of his prison to chime in on the conversations that the warriors are having.
  • Samurai Ponytail: Mifune is a poor wandering ronin with a short, scruffy ponytail that sticks straight out of the back of his head.
  • Seppuku: Superintendent Kikui after his defeat. Chamberlain Mutsuta was also in danger of doing this to himself while under captivity.
  • Single-Stroke Battle
  • Spanner in the Works: Hilariously, the Sidekicks screw up Sanjuro's plan to infiltrate the enemy.
  • Surrounded by Idiots: Sanjuro repeatedly displays this attitude regarding the others. Understandably.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Those Sidekicks wouldn't last 10 seconds without Sanjuro watching their back. See Have You Told Anyone Else? above for the establishing example.
  • Visual Pun: "We can't walk around like this. We look like a centipede."
  • Womenare Wiser: The Chamberlain's wife is more sensible than most of the men in the movie, save for Sanjuro and her husband, and the former takes her words to heart.
  • Worthy Opponent: Sanjuro considers Muroto to be one.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: Their plan to rescue the Chamberlain quickly goes awry, but Sanjuro shows mastery of Magnificent Bastardy by exercising this trope.
  • Yamato Nadeshiko: Mutsuta's wife as seen in the page quote; a sheath takes care of its sword.