Samurai Cinema

When I was in school, I would never read the book if there was a movie. Many things can be learned from watching, just like from reading. So today, I’m going to talk about samurai movies…all of which, I haven’t seen. But I went on about 20 different ‘Best Samurai Movies of all Time’ lists…and this is an eye-ball average of the results.

Only one of the lists contained The Last Samurai, the rest used it as a punch line. This is the one samurai movie that I did see. I didn’t hate the movie, outside of the fact that Tom Cruise was trying as hard as he could with every sentence, with ever breath, to get Best Actor. He was still pretty good. And the movie was enjoyable.

Ghost Dog is the other American samurai movie made fairly recently, and I’ve had people tell me I need to see it. That’s high on my list.

I’m going to watch as many of these movies as I can in the next two months. I separated them into two categories…On demand on Netflix, and not. I watch more movies on demand on Netflix than anywhere else. They’re all available to be put in the queue, but who wants to wait anymore?


7 Samurai (1954) – widely considered to be one of the greatest films ever made. This will be the first film I watch. (Ghost Dog will be the 2nd.)

Samurai Rebellion (1967) – one of the greatest Japanese films of all-time about the samurai in peace time.

Yojimbo (1961) – this was the model for the movie A Fistful of Dollars with Clint Eastwood.

Sanjuro (1962) – the sequel to Yojimbo

Hidden Fortress (1958) – Influential in the Star Wars Trilogy, proof that so little of what we thought was genius in this world was original.

Kagemusha: The Shadow Warrior (1980) – When a lord is killed, they find his double, a thief to pretend to be him to lead this group in battle.


The Samurai Trilogy (1954-56) – all three movies are based on my boy, Miyamoto Musashi, widely considered the most skilled swordsman in history. This is going to be purchased by me immediately.

Ran (1985) – the samurai version of King Lear. I don’t know my Shakespeare very well, and that’s apparently going to come back and bite me. Because there are a few Shakespeare rip-offs that are adored in the samurai movie world.

Throne of Blood (1957) – A MacBeth rip-off.

The Hidden Blade(2004) – the storyline of Japan’s transition into modern society, apparently just done more realistic and overall better than The Last Samurai.

47 Ronin (1941) – one of the most famous Japanese stories of all time about a group of samurai executing their revenge after their master is tricked into killing himself. Similar in lore to that of The 300.

Chushingura (1962) – known as the Gone with the Wind of Japanese cinema, this is also based on the story of the 47 ronin.

Harakiri (1962) – portrays the samurai virtues as a facade…which is rare to see.

Love and Honor (2006) – received nominations in 12 out of the entire 15 categories at the Japan Academy Awards. Would have been 13 except the male lead rejected his nomination for best actor because he didn’t want to compete with other actors for the award…(what???)