The first ever release of Yojimbo to
the DVD format features an overall presentation
that is representative of a time when the format
was still new and companies were still trying
to get a hang of the opportunities and potential
pitfalls it presented them. Expectedly, the video
quality here is fairly lacking by today's standards,
while the audio presentation is also pretty mediocre.
Sadly, this disc really falters though when it
comes to the extras, as the only included supplement
is the movie's trailer.
Considering this was produced back in 1999,
the video quality is better then one would have
expected. For example, the sharpness of the image
is certainly better than a lot of Criterion's
releases at this time, especially considering
that the image is window boxed and is not anamorphic,
meaning that there was a lot of needless image
to fit on the disc. The print used for the transfer
is also in decent shape, with only minor grain
seen through out and only a few scratches, which
really only become a distraction during one
scene. Sadly, this DVD doesn't feature the
true Japanese version of the film, as the Toho
logo is absent while the opening credits have
been totally replaced by English ones. However,
this disc does preserve the movie's original aspect
ratio of 2.35:1, or Toho Scope. Although a direct
comparison with other releases, such as this
shot versus one
off the 2007 release, does show that a small
portion of the image is getting cropped out here.
Overall, it was a good effort in its day, although
more then half a decade later the image quality
doesn't hold up very well to more modern releases.
In fact, Criterion's 2007 re-release of Yojimbo
stomps all over the quality seen here, which is
also a good indication of how far the company
has come with their releases.
This disc features one audio track, which
is mono version of the movie in its original Japanese.
The quality, although not perfect, is pretty good
with all of the dialogue being easily recognizable.
There are no overt pops or crackles heard as well,
although it's a shame that this disc doesn't include
the movie's original three channel stereo presentation,
something that the 2007 release by the firm would
The audio can be accompanied with, removable,
English subtitles. It should be noted that several
inconsistencies in the subtitles have been noted,
such as simple errors like the characters repeatidly
referring to a showdown at 3 AM when in fact it
was 2 AM. However, the mistranslations are fairly
small in the grand scheme of things and shouldn't
interfere with the viewing experience.
Only one real extra is to be found on this
disc, which is a theatrical trailer for the movie.
Unfortunately, the advert is horribly compressed,
looking very soft in terms of detail. The image
has also been cropped rather severely, with a
lot of text drifting out of the frame. The trailer
itself should be of interest to most, though,
for the amount of unused footage contained within,
including a showdown in the streets between Sanjuro
line, this disc was a worthwhile release in its
day, but is so outdated by today's standards that
it's better left forgotten. Thankfully, Criterion
gave the movie a very robust release in 2007,
and one can only hope they decide to do the same
thing for other dated releases from the firm,
such as the Samurai trilogy.
This disc is also featured in the box set: Akira
Kurosawa Four Samurai Classics.