DVD Title
International Title
Movie Length: 110 minutes Original Length: 110 minutes
Company: Criterion Release: 1999
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic: No
Region: 1Discs: 1
Language/Sound: Order
Japanese (1.0 Mono)
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· Trailers: Yojimbo
Anthony Romero

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.

 Video: Star Rating

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. Noise levels do appear low, but this is likely due in part to the soft image obscuring some grain. The print used for the transfer is in decent shape at least, with 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 remedy.

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 and Unosuke.

 Overview: Star Rating

Bottom 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.