The Top 10 Samurai Movies of All Time

Samurai films have been a part of Japanese cinema since the silent age, and with over 600 filmed samurai movies in Japan, it’s hard to pick the best. But, we did our best to narrow it down to our 10 favorites here.

However, please note that this list is subjective (which means that you may not agree with the order of our top 10 samurai film list), and it’s based on the opinions of one person (me). Feel free to share your favorite samurai films in the comments below.**

The Top 10 Samurai Movies of All Time:

10) Sanjuro*

This Kurosawa classic starring Toshiro Mifune as a ronin is a unique take on the samurai genre. The story takes place just before the Meiji Restoration when the emperor was still in power but samurai were beginning to lose their power. 

8) Harakiri*

This early, influential movie about samurai stars Tatsuya Nakadai who plays an aging lord wronged by his son and forced to commit seppuku (ritual suicide). 

7) The Sword of Doom*

One of director Kihachi Okamoto’s best films about swordsman Juzo Itami who seeks revenge against his former master for

The best samurai movies are the ones that are based on true samurai stories. However, most of them are fictionalized and have some historical facts changed or omitted. The best samurai movies have a great storyline and do not deviate much from the original story.

The Top 10 Best Samurai Movies of All Time

(10) The Last Samurai

(9) The Seven Samurai (1954)

(8) Kagemusha: The Shadow Warrior

(7) Harakiri (1962)

(6) Yojimbo (1961)

(5) Sanjuro (1962)

(4) Throne of Blood (1957)

(3) Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai: The Collector’s Edition

(2) Ran (1985)

(1) Chushingura (1962)* Not released in the US, but readily available via Amazon Marketplace sellers.** Not a true representation of Musashi’s life, but a very entertaining movie nonetheless

The following list is the top ten samurai movies. This list is an overview of the best samurai movies that have been produced by the Japanese film industry, which is one of the biggest entertainment industries in the world.

In this top 10 list, Seven Samurai and Yojimbo represent Akira Kurosawa’s finest work as director. The first installment of Zatoichi, starring Shintaro Katsu, is also featured among the best samurai movies.

The other seven samurai films are directed by some other very famous directors such as Kenji Mizoguchi and Hiroshi Inagaki.

Here’s a list of top 10 samurai movies:

1. Seven Samurai (1954)

2. Yojimbo (1961)

3. Harakiri (1962)

4. Throne of Blood (1957)

5. Zatoichi (series)

6. Kagemusha (1980)

7. Sanjuro (1962)

8. Hidden Fortress (1958)

9. Samurai Trilogy (1954-56)

10. Red Lion (1965)

10. The Twilight Samurai (2002)

Takashi Miike is a prolific Japanese filmmaker, and also one of the best samurai movie directors to date. Many people are not aware of this fact because he is not particularly well known in the West, but for those in Japan, he has made a name for himself as the director of over sixty films, including samurai movies such as Sukiyaki Western Django and 13 Assassins. However, his most recent film before The Twilight Samurai was One Missed Call, which is why many consider The Twilight Samurai to be his return to form.

Of course, this movie also has its flaws. Some might say that they have seen it all before; perhaps it lacks originality or any kind of innovation. Even so, the story is still very good and the acting is superb throughout; everyone gives a subtle and nuanced performance – even Shido Nakamura as Mizoguchi-sensei (the teacher), who does not play a major role in the story but is essential nonetheless. The ending is also quite moving: despite having lost his wife to illness, Kikunosuke chooses to leave her grave with no flowers since he cannot afford any. This represents his despair at being unable to provide for his family and also shows how little respect

These ten movies about samurai warriors are some of the best creations that have come out of the action-packed genre. In these films, you will find blood, guts, and most importantly, samurai swords. 

Samurai movies span a large history in Japan. The samurai movie genre began in 1954 with Akira Kurosawa’s Shichinin no Samurai. This film was based on the historical tale of seven ronin (masterless samurai) who avenged their master’s death by murdering a cruel lord. This was the first of many samurai films to be made by Kurosawa and others.

Toshiro Mifune starred in many famous Samurai films such as Yojimbo and Throne of Blood (Kumonosu Jo). He is probably one of the most famous samurai actors due to his roles as ally or nemesis to Akira Kurosawa. Many actors have portrayed samurai warriors including: Tom Cruise as The Last Samurai, Takashi Shimura as Seven Samurai , Toshirō Mifune as Rashomon , and Ken Watanabe as The Last Samurai . 

10. The Last Samurai (2003)

Synopsis: The Last Samurai is an epic drama set in Japan during the Meiji era, when the Emperor has abolished feudal

For those who don’t know, the samurai were a military caste in feudal Japan. The word “samurai” literally means “one who serves.” Unlike knights, samurai were not noblemen. Originally hired as professional soldiers, they eventually came to dominate the government and society of Japan. They became a symbol of the honor, bravery and fidelity which many associate with Japan in general.

The samurai made up about 10% of the Japanese population. The rest of Japanese society consisted of peasants, artisans and merchants.

The origin of the samurai goes back to the end of the 12th century. It was then that central authority collapsed in Japan and civil war reigned. Weak rulers called shoguns took advantage of this to seize power. To maintain control they hired warriors known as samurai as their private army. Over time, these warriors evolved into a class of their own: at first recruited from among the poor, but later from all layers of society.

Though the samurai eventually became accepted members of society, they still adhered to their own set of rules. Even in times of peace, a samurai was required to be trained in the art of war at all times. The samurai often carried two swords: a katana which would be used for fighting and a wakizashi which would be used for committing ritual suicide.

The more formal term for the wakizashi was “suicide sword” or “death sword” as it was designed for this purpose alone. The tradition was that, upon losing a duel or upon a great dishonor being brought to the family name, the samurai would perform seppuku or ritual suicide by cutting their stomach open with the blade of their own wakizashi sword. This form of suicide was considered honorable and would restore lost honor to the family name.

During battle, however, it was considered extremely bad luck to kill oneself with one’s own weapon and so samurai were taught to kill an opponent quickly and move on before they had time to commit seppuku as his body could be used as a shield against further attacks.

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