is a 1961 Japanese samurai film directed by Akira Kurosawa, who produced the film with Tomoyuki Tanaka and Ryūzō Kikushima. Kurosawa wrote the screenplay with Kikushima and Hideo Oguni based on Kurosawa's story. Kurosawa also edited the film and it tells the story of a rōnin, portrayed by Toshiro Mifune, who arrives in a small town where competing crime lords vie for supremacy. The two bosses each try to hire the newcomer as a bodyguard.


In 1860, during the final years of the Edo period, a rōnin wanders through a desolate Japanese countryside. While stopping at a farmhouse for water, he overhears an elderly couple lamenting that their only son, not wanting to waste his life as a farmer, has run off to join the "gamblers" who have descended on a nearby town overrun with criminals and divided between two rival bosses. The stranger heads to the town where he meets Gonji, the owner of a small izakaya who advises him to leave. He tells the rōnin that the two warring bosses, Ushitora and Seibei, are fighting over the lucrative gambling trade run by Seibei; Ushitora had been Seibei's right-hand man, but rebelled when Seibei decided that his successor would be his son Yoichiro, a useless youth. The town's mayor, a silk merchant named Tazaemon, had long been in Seibei's pocket, so Ushitora aligned himself with the local sake brewer, Tokuemon, proclaiming him the new mayor. After sizing up the situation and recognizing that no one in town cares about ending the violence, the stranger says he intends to stay, as the town would be better off with both sides dead.