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How about some Samurai films?

PostPosted: Fri Aug 16, 2013 13:12 +0000
by maichan
Wasn't sure whether to post here or in Ronin Ramblings, but seeing that there is a lot of samurai film talk here, I chose All Things Japan!

So, what am I writing about?

With the recent topic about the Zatoichi Criterion Collection, I thought I'd ask for some opinions/recommendations regarding Samurai films. What films do you recommend or NOT recommend.

I already have Zatoichi on the Home Vision Entertainment collection, and the AnimEigo set, as well as the first TV season from Media Blasters. I love all the Zatoichi films so far. Sure, some are better than others, but overall I enjoy them all and plan on getting the Criterion Collection when it comes out. I also hope the remaining TV seasons will be released one day.

What else do I have.....
Lone Wolf & Cub (AnimEigo boxed DVD set)
Akira Kurosawa: Four Samurai Classics (Seven Samurai / The Hidden Fortress / Yojimbo / Sanjuro) (The Criterion Collection DVD set)
Kagemusha (The Criterion Collection)
13 Assassins (2010 release)

I might have others but I'm not at home to verify.

I also like samurai/ninja related anime, so any recommendations for them is also appreciated.
I have:
Samurai Champloo
Rurouni Kenshin
Inuyasha
Ninja Scroll: The Series - Ultimate Collection

There may also be more.... will update later.

Re: How about some Samurai films?

PostPosted: Fri Aug 16, 2013 23:01 +0000
by Jet_Jaguar
Of course, there'a also Hiroshi Inagaki's Samurai Trilogy, which has a somewhat more "old-fashioned" feel to it than other samurai movies despite being in color rather than B&W (so much so that I didn't really care for it that much the first time I tried to watch it), but is definitely worth seeing. The Criterion Blu-Ray is "rich dessert" beautiful, this is one of those movies you can almost just watch for the images. Of course, it's kind of a must-see for UY fans since it's about Mushashi Miyamoto.

The last samurai movie I watched is Hideo Gosha's Three Outlaw Samurai, which Criterion has also released on Blu-Ray. A pretty solid movie overall.

A few more that come to mind:

Sword of Doom (I'd love a Blu-Ray of this one)
Samurai Rebellion
Hara-Kiri
Pretty much anything with Toshiro Mifune and/or Tatsuya Nakadai in leading roles

Can't really think of that many samurai movies that I wouldn't recommend, maybe some of the sillier ones from the 80s with Sonny Chiba and/or Hiroyuki Nakadai (nothing against either of them), but they can still be kind if entertaining in their own way.

Re: How about some Samurai films?

PostPosted: Sat Aug 17, 2013 18:14 +0000
by Maka
Hara-Kiri is my favorite but it is not a traditional samurai film. It's very slow paced and there isn't any fighting until the last 10 minutes of the film. I don't think everyone would enjoy it.

I own Hara-Kiri; Lone Wolf and Cub Baby Cart in the Land of Demons (someone gave this to me and I didn't even know I owned it. I haven't even watched it yet. Cool, I'll be enjoying this soon); and Zatoichi Meets Yojimbo.

Peace, maka

Re: How about some Samurai films?

PostPosted: Sat Aug 17, 2013 22:04 +0000
by maichan
Thank you for the suggestions.
I guess I can't go too wrong if I stick with Criterion's Samurai Cinema.

While it's not a samurai film, has anyone watched Lady Snowblood? Worth adding to the library?

Hopefully others will chime in with their recommendations too.

Re: How about some Samurai films?

PostPosted: Sun Aug 18, 2013 0:51 +0000
by Steve Hubbell
The Rebel Samurai box set from Criterion is awesome - it includes Samurai Rebellion (Masaki Kobayashi - Hara Kiri), Samurai Spy (Masahiro Shinoda - Pale Flower, Double Suicide), Sword of the Beast (Hideo Gosha - Three Outlaw Samurai, Goyokin), and Kill (Kihachi Okamoto - Sword of Doom, Red Lion, Samurai Assassin, Zatoichi vs Yojimbo) - all excellent films by some of Japan's best directors.

Amazon link

Another great one is "Revenge" - directed by Tadashi Imai and starring Kinnosuke Nakamura.

Amazon link


Hiroshi inagaki's last film "Incident at Blood Pass" which featured ToshirĂ´ Mifune, Kinosuke Nakamura, and Shintaro Katsu is also worth watching.

Amazon link

Of course, all of these are "classic" films....

For some newer films:
Samurai Fiction (1998 - Hiroyuki Nakano)
Dora-Heita (2000 - Kon Ichikawa)
The Sea Is Watching (2002 - Kei Kumai)

There have been a bunch of recent films based on the short stories of Shuhei Fujisawa:
Twilight Samurai
Hidden Blade
Love and Honor
The Samurai I Loved (A Chorus of Cicadas)
Sword of Desperation

Re: How about some Samurai films?

PostPosted: Tue Aug 20, 2013 9:58 +0000
by maichan
Thanks Steve! More to add to my wanted list. Many of these anew to me, and I've started to read up on them... :P

Re: How about some Samurai films?

PostPosted: Tue Aug 20, 2013 13:13 +0000
by Steve Hubbell
Thanks to Usagi Yojimbo, I discovered the samurai film genre.

Now I own a few hundred of them on dvds, a large amount of them due to the hard work of fan subbers like Merlin at http://www.samuraidvd.com

It is a shame that more of these great movies are not available on officially released and sub-titled dvds.

Re: How about some Samurai films?

PostPosted: Tue Aug 20, 2013 16:50 +0000
by go

Re: How about some Samurai films?

PostPosted: Tue Aug 20, 2013 18:31 +0000
by Steve Hubbell
Sorry, only two d's in http://www.samuraidvd.com for that link, not three.... :oops:

Re: How about some Samurai films?

PostPosted: Tue Aug 20, 2013 21:35 +0000
by Maka
Steve Hubbell wrote:Thanks to Usagi Yojimbo, I discovered the samurai film genre.


Wow, I never knew you didn't watch samurai films before Usagi. Wow. :shock:

Peace, maka

Re: How about some Samurai films?

PostPosted: Sat Aug 24, 2013 12:48 +0000
by Steve Hubbell
Maka wrote:
Steve Hubbell wrote:Thanks to Usagi Yojimbo, I discovered the samurai film genre.


Wow, I never knew you didn't watch samurai films before Usagi. Wow. :shock:

Peace, maka

The only Japanese films I had ever seen prior to reading Usagi Yojimbo were some Kaiju films as a kid. Godzilla, Mothra and Rhodan are the ones I remember. I managed to miss out on the anime craze as I grew up, with Speed Racer being pretty much the only one I watched any of. Since I was born in the 60's, the western was still common on US television while I was a kid. I think the similarities between samurai films and horse operas played a part in getting me hooked on Japanese period cinema.

Re: How about some Samurai films?

PostPosted: Tue Sep 10, 2013 9:41 +0000
by maichan
I grew up during the 60's and 70's in Orange County California watching Los Angeles TV programming. My memory of those days is vague, but I know I watched a lot of Public TV, and there was one or two channels that aired programs like Speed Racer, and Kimba the White Lion. I'm pretty sure I used to watch some Samurai shows on those same channels, so I think those were my earliest introductions to the genre. I also recall watching the various Japanese monster movies countless times as they seemed to air quite regularly.

I only started following comics as an adult during the late 80's and Usagi had already been around for a few years before I became aware of him. It took me a few more years until I actually sat down to look at and read the books (curses I didn't do it earlier, as I remember seeing those early copies of Albedo going for decent prices... LOL). It was still a number of more years until I made friends with several Japanese Americans that made me aware of Zatoichi which in turn opened me up to other Samurai films and TV series. I'm nowhere near Steve or other Dojo members when it comes to the genre, but I enjoy them for a number of reasons... :D

Re: How about some Samurai films?

PostPosted: Fri Sep 20, 2013 12:04 +0000
by SHIZEN
Some of my favourites:
Festival of swordsmen
Samurai Reincarnation (1981)
The Red Shadow (Akai Kageboshi)
Yagyu Secret Scrolls (Yagyu Bugeicho) 1 and 2 (Toshiro Mifune)

Re: How about some Samurai films?

PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2016 16:07 +0000
by jabba359
November is another stellar samurai movie month from Criterion. They are releasing a new Lone Wolf & Cub set that contains all six films:

  • Lone Wolf & Cub: Sword of Vengence
  • Lone Wolf & Cub: Baby Cart at the River Styx
  • Lone Wolf & Cub: Baby Cart to Hades
  • Lone Wolf & Cub: Baby Cart in Peril
  • Lone Wolf & Cub: Baby Cart in the Land of Demons
  • Lone Wolf & Cub: White Heaven in Hell

https://www.criterion.com/boxsets/1217-lone-wolf-and-cub

And, while not exactly a samurai film, Akira Kurosawa's Dreams is getting a blu-ray release. This will be a welcome upgrade from my old DVD.

https://www.criterion.com/films/28700-akira-kurosawa-s-dreams

Best of all, Barnes and Noble typically runs a 50% off Criterion sale in November, so these titles should be available for half off!

Re: How about some Samurai films?

PostPosted: Tue Aug 23, 2016 9:33 +0000
by Warren
I don't have anywhere near the collection that some of you do, but I have the British Film Institute 'Kurosawa Samurai Collection' that includes the four films of the Criterion Collection, plus Throne of Blood. That latter one was quite good, I thought.

Steve Hubbell wrote:I think the similarities between samurai films and horse operas played a part in getting me hooked on Japanese period cinema.


Same. :) I think my interest was piqued when I heard that Star Wars: A New Hope was influenced by The Hidden Fortress, and A Fistful Of Dollars *ahem* 'influenced' by Yojimbo - both films that I'm very fond of. When I finally got to see the forerunners, I was hooked.