It has been a while since people have seen classic hack and slash movies that have the components of history, art, and principles; and samurai movies offer the kind of entertainment that provides you a vivid imagery of ancient Japanese warriors and sword wielders. You cannot even line them up with modern movies that belong to the action genre because these are considered classics, with the level of close combat that just cannot compare, except for martial arts movies being the closest. With the celebration of the Samurai Festival in Japan drawing near, see the top 10 best samurai movies of all time.
10. The Last Samurai
The Last Samurai stays true to its title as being the last in this list although it can be attributed that its director, Edward Zwick, was able to bring out culture and tradition that has been prevalent in other samurai movies before it. Tom Cruise was the perfect actor portraying the role of an American officer that came in contact with samurai warriors during the Meiji Restoration period.
9. The Sword of Doom
This classic movie was released in 1966 in displaying a different kind of samurai movie that often shows leading roles playing knight-in-shining-armor roles. Tatsuya Nakadai acts the part of Ryunosuke Tsukue where he was known to be a master swordsman with an unusual fighting style and a past-feeling resolve in killing where he is not moved by his conscience. Nevertheless, the movie takes shape when a turning point in his life made him change for the better, paying the price with his life while seeking for retribution.
8. 47 Samurai
Perhaps the story of the 47 Ronin has been one of the most adapted true-to-life samurai stories when it comes to portraying loyalty, honor, and sacrifice. The 47 samurai were under the service of Lord Asano Naganori, who refused to accept bribery from a member of the court, Kira Yoshinaka. With the master avoiding the said evil deed, he assaulted the court member and was forced to commit suicide. The 47 ronin, now being masterless, plotted murder against Kira, and were successful, thus also ending their lives due to political dishonor.
7. Samurai Rebellion
Samurai Rebellion is a classic story that displays the love of a father to a son that has been deceived of love and marriage, being manipulated by the influence of the rich. Isaburo Sasahara was a product of a loveless marriage, which he does not want his son to experience. At the time Yogoro, Sasahara’s son, was arranged to marry Ichi, the daimyo’s ex-concubine, the family agreed to the arrangement, which bore fruit of a daughter named Tomi. When the heir died, Ichi was forced to go back to the daimyo’s castle, thus tricking Sasahara, his younger son, and Yogoro into committing suicide just to lure her back. However, the skilled swordsman planned for an attack that resulted in the death of Ichi, sacrificing herself for the life of her husband, while catching the spear for love. Sasahara turned himself over to the Shogun, only to be killed by assassins before arriving to his destination. Tomi was left alone, encouraged by the grandfather to be as loving as the mother and as brave as the father.
6. Shogun Assassin
Based from the story Lone Wolf and Cub, Shogun Assassin is about the story of Ogami Itto who has been branded falsely as an assassin because of the accusations of the Yagyu Clan, being the Shogun’s executioner carrying a battle Dotanuki battle sword. He was forced to trudge on a path of darkness, while bringing his son, Daigoro, along with him on a push cart after his family was killed due to his occupation as an executioner that killed many feudal lords and other offenders of the Shogun. The path had carried the father and son tandem to many adventures and killings during the journey, which ended when Itto was killed and Daigoro killing the father’s killer, Retsudo, a member of the Yagyu Clan.
5. Throne of Blood
With acclaimed director Akira Kurosawa making the movie, the Throne of Blood literally is a story about samurai commanders being enticed with the plot of taking the throne of their local lord, thanks to the spirit that foretold them of their future. Killing their lord and making one of the unconscious guards as the murderer, the couple Washizu and Asaji almost got away with the crime. However, fate has turned the tides and Waishizu was killed in the process.
An act of disembowelment and suicide, commonly for the cause of retaining honor, pride, and a sense of self-worth, Harakiri also portray the same kind of principles in the movie. However, you will be surprised that a suicidal attempt goes at the very beginning of the movie, which makes you expect that there is something more to the Japanese warrior tradition. Hanshiro Tsugumo who became a ronin after his lord died, was commanded not to commit seppuku, for the sake of his loved ones.
Another great Akira Kurosawa – Tatsuya Nakadai team movie that was based from the legends of daimyo Mori Motonari, being one of the best, and most expensive Japanese jidaigeki (swordfight) movies, spending over $12 million in budget. The plot was all about the lust of power, the betrayal of family and loved ones for the evil intention, and even the wars that resulted from the rebellion of the many that kills all the main characters in the movie.
Yojimbo may be known by the modern generation as a samurai summon in Final Fantasy X that performs biddings based on the payment being given. This very perception is what makes Yojimbo one of the best films that celebrated the genius of Akira Kurosawa in making jidaigeki films, even being sought by modern generations who have heard of the character. The plot may not be much to be interested of. However, fight scenes to be seen here are beyond ordinary, even when there were no special effects involved. It was a sheer display of classic fighting cinematography that goes as raw and as beautiful as it can be.
1. Seven Samurai
Since this is the number one movie, you can never expect any less of the genius being rendered by Akira Kurosawa in this movie adventure that portrays seven different samurais who have been hired on the quest to protect the farming village from bandits. The samurais have trained the farmers, fortified the village, and have even befriended the members of the community in the process. The funny part is that at the end of the movie, it was revealed that Kambei, the main man in the group mentioned that it was the farmers that won the battle…