Hollywood Birthday: Toshiro Mifune

Before there was Chow Yun Fat. Way before there was Clint Eastwood. Before Steve McQueen, Charlie Bronson, or Shaft there was a man working in relative obscurity far, far from Hollywood who single-handedly created the Movie Anti-Hero Badass as we know it. Toshiro Mifune is this man, and today is his birthday.

TM had great range as an actor. He played businessmen to MacBeth, but he is known for his Badass Samurais in the films of Akira Kurosawa. No matter what he’s playing, TM is riveting. He reeks charisma through every pore. He could play broad emotions, he could communicate with subtle body language. In fact, though all his films are in Japanese, subtitles are rarely needed when TM is in a scene. His face and gestures pretty much convey all you need to know, wordlessly.

What You Should Watch

Go to the video store, to the foreign section. If you pick up a DVD box and it has the names Toshiro Mifune and Akira Kurosawa on it, rent it. If it also has the word “samurai” anywhere on the box, rent it twice. You will be guaranteed a quality film experience.

Granted, I’m not one of those people who think Kurosawa is some infallible god. But the man WAS good. Very good. And when he worked with Mifune, he was at his best. I think they had one of those rare actor/director relationships where each inspired the other to do his best work. Like John Woo and Chow Yun Fat. Come to think of it, the only Kurosawa movies I dislike are those without Toshiro Mifune. Coincidence?? Nope.

Anyway, if you can only see one movie, see Yojimbo. It’s the movie Eastwood re-did as “A Fistful of Dollars.” One lone badass samurai comes to a lawless town and shrewdly cleans the place up. Names are taken, asses are kicked. TM’s performance in this is a thing of beauty. I wish I could watch it right now! :(

5 Responses to “Hollywood Birthday: Toshiro Mifune”

  1. Mistress Maxi Says:

    Ah, Toshiro Mifune…how well I know and love him! My husband, thankfully for me, is a Kurosawa nut and introduced me to his wonderful films, half of which, it seems, has TF in them.

    BTW, if you can find it, rent Sanjuro too, which is a prequel (I believe, though it came out later) to Yojimbo.

    And PS…had no idea that TF’s birthday was on my anniversary. :D Learn something new every day….

  2. Mistress Maxi Says:

    Oh, one more thing… Bruce Willis also did a Yojimbo remake, called “Last Man Standing”. Good flick. We have them all here, and are planning on having a “Yojimbo” night one of these days…

  3. Loddy3dots Says:

    I just want to say… Mifune is THE DON…

    Oh and in addition to “Fistful of Dollars”, if you watch “Last Man Standing” starring Bruce “I never run out of bullets” Willis, you’ll notice that it is a COMPLETE RIP OFF of Yojimbo.

    Don’t try and argue with me, lol you know it’s true hehe…

    – Lodbert

  4. Loddy3dots Says:

    Um, yeah… Kinda wish I’d read the previous comments now but er yeah… lol…

    Hollywood, stop ripping off asian cinema!!

    For instance, the fight between Neo & Agent Smith?? Watch the last big fight in the korean film “Volcano High” and you’ll see what I mean…

    - Lodbert

  5. Dave Says:

    Happy Birthday 2007 Toshiro, we miss you and perhaps hope to somehow emulate something of your Japanese cool and we also thankyou, as baby boomers often brought up to think less than kindly of the Japanese people, for showing us something of the heart of the salt of the earth Japanese person.
    Doozo Arigato Goozaimasu !!!!!!!

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