Movie News

Nordling's Weekly Top 5! The 5 Best Cinematic Samurai!

Published at: Sept. 7, 2012, 9:20 p.m. CST by Nordling

Nordling here.

I love samurai movies.  Just love them.  I can't get enough of them.  And what's even more wonderful is that there are so freaking many of them.  I can't possibly see them all, and I have huge gaps in my samurai movie catalog that I can't wait to fill.  Movies by filmmakers like Kurosawa, Miike - even Beat Takeshi tried his hand at one.  I know I'm nowhere near seeing all the ones I need to see, and that's fine.  I never hold it against anyone when I find out they haven't seen a particular movie because I'm all too aware of my own personal lapses in that regard.

So what is it about the samurai movie that intrigues movie geeks? For me, it's the sense of honor and heroism that the best samurai represent.  Their fierce loyalty has always compelled me, and the best samurai intrinsically know right from wrong and live it every day.  There's a reason why Westerns ripped off this genre wholesale.  They are the hero archetype through and through - and they are no one to be trifled with.  A samurai unleashed will not stop until he or his enemy is dead.  There's a sense of nobility and tragedy even with the best samurai movies; a mourning of a time long past, and a way of life that seems right and true and real.

Plus, there's something truly wonderful about a great samurai swordfight.  It's not even about the mechanics of battle, or the swordplay.  Just two opponents, sizing each other up, looking for any weakness to exploit.  A great samurai duel is more of a mind game than any true physical combat.  When a samurai strikes, the battle has already been decided - the thrust of the sword is mere punctuation at the end of a declarative statement.  And that statement is, "I have truly, righteously, kicked your ass."

I had to set up some strict rules for this one. Couldn't repeat an actor. Otherwise it would be Toshiro Mifune in all the freaking slots. Couldn't repeat a movie.  Otherwise they'd all be SEVEN SAMURAI.  And as I thought about this one it turned out a bit harder than I expected.  But, I'm happy with the result.

That said, I had to put an honorable mention in here, because there was just too much badassery and awesome for five entries.  So the Honorable Mention breaks the rules a bit, as you will see.  Let's begin:

HONORABLE MENTION: Kyuzo, SEVEN SAMURAI

You can bet there will be another character from this movie on this list.  If there weren't, this list wouldn't be worth a damn.  But Kyuzo stands out for me.  He doesn't brag, isn't full of bluster or ego.  He, quite simply, kills his opponent, and walks away.  During a pretend duel with another samurai, Kyuzo calmly tells his opponent that if the opponent were in a real fight, he'd be killed.  His partner of course doubts this, and challenges Kyuzo to prove it, which in awesome, definitive style he does.  

One swing, and the slow motion fall, and one of the greatest, most badass samurai on screen is born.  Even in his death, Kyuzo's last act is to point to the direction of his murderer.  Kyuzo isn't just badassery either.  There's a nobility to him, in helping those less fortunate than him, or even covering for another lovesick samurai.  And even Kyuzo becomes weary of war, and chooses his companions well.  I could watch a whole movie on Kyuzo alone, and the fact that he's just one great character in a movie filled to the brim of them is what makes SEVEN SAMURAI one of the greatest movies of all time.

5.  Kajima, A BOY AND HIS SAMURAI

There's a very good chance you haven't seen this movie, and that's very unfortunate.  This movie was my personal favorite film from Fantastic Fest last year, and its charm and warm humor could crack the ice around the most jaded, cynical heart.  Kajima, played by Ryô Nishikido, is a samurai lost in time, who suddenly appears in the modern age and has no idea what to make of this time.  He finds himself drawn to a young single woman and her son, and becomes the father figure the boy desperately needs.  In the vein of movies like THE IRON GIANT, Kajima the samurai teaches the boy about what true honor is, and the boy finds a place in Kajima's heart.  But what's so amazing about A BOY AND HIS SAMURAI is that it's something of a foodie movie, as Kajima becomes an expert pastry and dessert chef!  I wish I could find a clip of some of the awesomeness on display in this movie.  But trust me, if you find it, this one is a movie to cherish, and Kajima joins the ranks of the great samurai of cinema.  He lives the life of a samurai even in these crazy trying times, and while there isn't much fighting in A BOY AND HIS SAMURAI, it's his style and his attitude towards life that puts him on this list.

4.  Ryunosuke, THE SWORD OF DOOM

Remember what I said about the noble, heroic samurai?  You can throw all that out the window.  Ryunosuke (Tatsuya Nakadai) is a heartless son-of-a-bitch, who isn't above killing Buddhist pilgrims for the hell of it (to be fair, the pilgrim was praying for death at the time).  Dude even gets his opponent's wife to screw him just so he can get one over him in a duel they have later.  He even murders his mistress as their child wails away in bed.  He is completely amoral and a ruthless killer, and the only time he thinks about his evil actions is when he sees Shimada (Toshiro Mifune) fend off his attackers and realizes how much of a better man Shimada is.  

In the end of the film, Ryunosuke, hopelessly insane, fights off wave after wave of assassins in one of the greatest sword fights ever done in cinema, and we realize that while Ryunosuke was an evil, vicious man, he was certainly no one to be messed with.  THE SWORD OF DOOM is a tremendously good samurai movie (even if the main character is no hero).  Sometimes we learn the true values of a samurai by seeing their polar opposite.

3.  Ogami Itto, the LONE WOLF AND CUB movies

Full disclosure - I haven't seen all the Babycart movies.  In fact, I haven't seen any of them uncut except in the SHOGUN ASSASSIN versions.  But holy shit, this guy.  There is nothing more satisfying than arterial spray in a samurai movie, and these movies spray enough to paint houses.  When Ogami returns home one day to find his wife murdered, he collects his son and unleashes hell on everyone who had anything to do with her murder.  Anyone who even looked sideways at Ogami and his son Daigoro met violent, bloody deaths.  And that's pretty much the gist of it.  Ogami Itto, played by Tomisaburo Wakayama, was a brutal warrior who fights his way all through the movies and the manga they were based on.  Check this shit out:

Dude took on an ARMY. Yeah, he used pistols at the end, so that takes away some points, but how can you question this being on the list?  The LONE WOLF AND CUB movies, uncut, come out this month on Blu-Ray.  You've already put them in your cart.

2. Sanjuro, YOJIMBO/SANJURO

Tough call, this one, and I can hear the cries already on why Toshiro Mifune isn't number one on this list.  My list, my rules.  And yet, I cannot deny the greatest character in Mifune's formidable catalog of roles.  YOJIMBO is so damn good that filmmakers have ripped it off for years - no less a filmmaker than Sergio Leone, in fact.  One of my favorite takes on YOJIMBO is a little movie called FRESH, where a young kid schooled in chess learns how to manipulate the local drug dealers to try to rescue himself and his sister from the streets.  But Mifune's character has inspired people like John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, hell, even Bruce Willis in Walter Hill's take on the movie.  

He has a quiet dignity about him, but he does not suffer fools gladly, and when it comes to injustice, Sanjuro (which, loosely translated, means 30-year-old mulberry field - see, dude is so badass he names himself after an empty field) knows it when he sees it and puts things to rights, even if he does so in a manner that totally confuses friend and foe alike.  "I get paid for killing, and this town is full of people who deserve to die."  Spoken like a true ronin.

1. Kambei Shimada, SEVEN SAMURAI

People have asked me who my favorite actor in Akira Kurosawa's movies is, and seem surprised when I say that it's not Toshiro Mifune, but Takeshi Shimura.  In comparison to the films that Kurosawa and Mifune made together, Shimura's work with the man seems to go under the radar.  But Shimura starred in what I consider the best Kurosawa movie ever made, IKIRU, playing an old man dying of cancer who decides to do one good deed before he dies.  You can hardly believe that the actor playing the feeble, stricken Kanji Watanabe is the same one playing the brave, strong, noble Kambei just two years later.  And yet, Kambei, the leader of a group of ronin fighting to save a village from raiding bandits, is a true leader in every sense of the word.  He brings this ragtag group of men together, men used to losing all their lives, and makes them true heroes.  He even brings a non-samurai - and Mifune is truly brilliant as Kikuchiyo, the farmer's son-turned-warrior - into their group, and through his steadfast leadership, turns him onto the path of greatness.  

When I think of samurai, I think of Kambei, knowing that no matter who wins the fight for the village, that time has passed them by, and the only noble thing to do is to live the life that has served him all those years.  Kambei knows true loss - the loss of battle, the loss of loved ones - but it is not victory that Kambei fights for, but peace of mind.  From shaving his topknot (a no-no for samurai) so he can rescue a small child, to working for food to save a village, Kambei does the hero's work.  He enjoys the camaraderie of his fellow samurai, and mourns them when they die.  And yet, he knows he will never be thanked for his good deeds, and Kambei moves on.  "The farmers have won.  We have lost."  And although he does not say it, Kambei Shimada wouldn't have it any other way.  He is, in my opinion, the greatest samurai in cinema history.

Who have I missed?  Zatoichi the Blind Swordsman... Toshiro Mifune's Kikuchiyo from SEVEN SAMURAI, or even his amazing performance as famed samurai Musashi Miyamoto in the SAMURAI Trilogy - which came really damn close to making this list, but I went for Sanjuro instead.  The many samurai of Takeshi Miike's 13 ASSASSINS, one of the best modern samurai movies and one that Kurosawa himself would have approved.  Hell, even Forest Whitaker in GHOST DOG: WAY OF THE SAMURAI.  Tatsuya Nakadai in HARAKIRI, as noble as his Ryunosuke in THE SWORD OF DOOM was evil.  So many more.  So many great movies.  I'm dying to see more great samurai cinema, and I'm so happy that I've barely scratched the surface.

Next week - well, I have no idea what I'll be writing about next week, so let me surprise you as well as myself.  Thanks for reading.

Nordling, out.  Follow me on Twitter!

Readers Talkback

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  • Sept. 7, 2012, 9:22 p.m. CST

    First, bitches.

    by Fah-Cue

  • Sept. 7, 2012, 9:23 p.m. CST

    Tommmmmm cccccccrrrruuuiiissseee

    by rartus

    Im drunk

  • Sept. 7, 2012, 9:25 p.m. CST

    No Samurai Jack?

    by Darth_Nader

    Not even honorable mention? Maybe TV, but that show was pure cinematic.

  • Sept. 7, 2012, 9:25 p.m. CST

    Mifune in Hidden Fortress

    by UsultheMahdi

  • Sept. 7, 2012, 9:25 p.m. CST

    Twilight Samurai should've been in there me thinks

    by Bobby Stryker

  • Sept. 7, 2012, 9:27 p.m. CST

    Nick Parker, Honorable Mention...

    by Dan

  • Sept. 7, 2012, 9:28 p.m. CST

    I liked your article

    by MrLongbaugh

  • Sept. 7, 2012, 9:34 p.m. CST

    Good call on Samurai Jack as well

    by Dan

    Watched every episode in order during my time in Bastion (while I was in it enought to...) Bloody brilliant, just a shame about Mako. A full feature to end it in grand style would have made it a little piece of perfection.

  • Sept. 7, 2012, 9:44 p.m. CST

    John Belushi.

    by adeceasedfan

    Duh.

  • Sept. 7, 2012, 9:51 p.m. CST

    Booo! How the Fuck can you make a Best Cinematic Samurai article....

    by BacardiRocky

    ...and yet use Ogami Itto as seen through the recut/edited/spliced together fuckfest that is Shogun Assassin. I like Shogun Assassin a lot, but nothing beats the Lone Wolf and Cub originals. I own all six, and although the series ends on a cliffhanger, I can't think of a Samurai series. Watch Lone Wolf and Cub. You owe it to yourself if you like Samurai flicks.

  • Sept. 7, 2012, 9:52 p.m. CST

    I can't think of a BETTER Samurai series.

    by BacardiRocky

    Stupid nonexistent edit button....

  • Sept. 7, 2012, 10:01 p.m. CST

    Absolutely dead on about Takashi Shimura

    by TheGreatHomsar

    Mifune is awesome and far more well-known, but Shimura absolutely commands the screen in just about every collaboration with Kurosawa. "Ikiru" and "Seven Samurai" are masterpieces, but he's also fucking amazing in some of the earlier stuff like "Stray Dog" or "The Drunken Angel." Such a legend.

  • Sept. 7, 2012, 10:03 p.m. CST

    Nordling go grab the Sleepy Eyes Of Death series now!!!!

    by Kid Dynamite

    Might be one of the best Samurai series ever, nemuri kyoshiro is not to be fucked with... There is nothing exploitative or gimmicky about this series/ just straight true Samurai shit, I highly recommend it!!!!

  • Sept. 7, 2012, 10:05 p.m. CST

    And while it may not be Top 5 material...

    by TheGreatHomsar

    ...I'll still say Ken Watanabe rocks the house in "The Last Samurai."

  • Sept. 7, 2012, 10:05 p.m. CST

    Sleepy Eyes Of Death

    by Nordling

    Will do. Great title.

  • Sept. 7, 2012, 10:17 p.m. CST

    Sobering up...

    by rartus

    Second the Ken Wantenbee nomination

  • Sept. 7, 2012, 10:17 p.m. CST

    +1 for Twilight Samurai

    by gun_will_travel

    Because being a Samurai is about honor first. And delete Sword of Doom, the anti-samurai. Good list overall.

  • Sept. 7, 2012, 10:19 p.m. CST

    No Beatrix Kiddo?

    by gun_will_travel

    Just Kiddo-ing

  • Sept. 7, 2012, 10:19 p.m. CST

    Agree with bacardirocky

    by Nichole

    Nordling get on seiing all the Lone Wolf and Cub uncut movies. STAT!!!!! When you do, Ogami Itto, will be your new Number 1. Best Samurai films ever.

  • Sept. 7, 2012, 10:20 p.m. CST

    No Zatoichi

    by Phategod2

    No love for blind Samurai?

  • Sept. 7, 2012, 10:21 p.m. CST

    sweet article, Nordling.

    by Kevin

  • Sept. 7, 2012, 10:28 p.m. CST

    What about Buddy, the SIX-STRING SAMURAI?

    by lv_426

  • Sept. 7, 2012, 10:47 p.m. CST

    Silly caucasian girl likes to play with samurai swords...

    by Nasty In The Pasty

    You may not be able to fight like a samurai, but at least you can die like a samurai.

  • Sept. 7, 2012, 10:49 p.m. CST

    SAKE! SAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAKE!

    by Nasty In The Pasty

    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO, SAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAKEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Sept. 7, 2012, 10:49 p.m. CST

    Ikiru is the best Kurosawa movie ever....nice call Nordling

    by Jeff

    One of my top 10 of all time

  • Sept. 7, 2012, 11:02 p.m. CST

    MIBU GISHI DEN

    by Panglor

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G2Bz93DQ3Oo

  • Sept. 7, 2012, 11:06 p.m. CST

    Not having Raizo Ichikawa on this list is a cardinal fail...LINK

    by obijuanmartinez

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FOxA8IAdc9w

  • Sept. 7, 2012, 11:08 p.m. CST

    ...and Zatoichi is not a samurai

    by obijuanmartinez

  • Sept. 7, 2012, 11:41 p.m. CST

    Sanjuro 1, Ogami Itto 2

    by BERSERKR

    My opinion :p

  • Sept. 8, 2012, 12:46 a.m. CST

    Mifune is the man

    by Miyamoto_Musashi

  • Sept. 8, 2012, 12:50 a.m. CST

    Brazil

    by Delta5Qmp

    Coolest Samurai ever had yet to be mentioned.

  • Sept. 8, 2012, 1:13 a.m. CST

    Bob....the last samurai.

    by MagicJesus

    honorable mention....Hong Kong Phooey.

  • Sept. 8, 2012, 1:45 a.m. CST

    You covered all the good cliche ones, what about Hanzo?

    by CodeName

  • Sept. 8, 2012, 2:05 a.m. CST

    Mifune does not exist in this dojo

    by Cobra--Kai

    Nordling, i'd have given Mifune his place for THRONE OF BLOOD - have you seen that one? Simply for his bravery as an actor during the final sequence where arrows slam into the wooden stockade wall all around him. Real arrows! The arrows were fired by trained marksmen but they were hitting just inches from him. Its like an actor agreeing to put himself through a circus knife throwing show... can't imagine that happening to a lead actor today!

  • The premise makes sense because in not only martial arts but in life in general, I find my attempts to live by the code of Bushi-Do increasingly at odds with an increasingly harsh, vulgar, selfish and mannerless society...where the traits of humility, honour, respect and co are sorely needed. It would be great to see a resurgence into this sub-genre. Reminds me that I need to see 13 Assassins too. Question though, who is the 'Last Samurai' in The Last Samurai? Ken Watanabe's character or Tom Cruise's? I haven't seen it since release and didn't like it, much as I want to. If the Last Samurai is Criise's character, a westener...that would be simply insulting. Plus, being Cruise, it would reek of nothing more than total narcissism. If the 'Last Samurai' is Watanabe's character however, fine that makes sense. That part just isn't clear to me.

  • Sept. 8, 2012, 3:14 a.m. CST

    The climax to Throne of Blood

    by mr.underwater

    is one of the most insane things ever committed to film. But it's not really a samurai movie... Good call on Redbelt though. Total samurai flick, Mamet-ized.

  • Sept. 8, 2012, 3:50 a.m. CST

    Watanabe is the last samurai

    by drave117

    Almost all of the hate I saw directed at this movie was from people pissed that the last samurai was a white guy. Did they even watch the movie? *sigh*

  • Sept. 8, 2012, 3:53 a.m. CST

    FoTNS?

    by Therealumlaut

    Am I alone in Fist of The North Star being a Samurai film? Or is that straight up Kung-Fu? I feel like the blade type moves make is more Samurai. IMHO

  • Sept. 8, 2012, 3:59 a.m. CST

    Sword of Doom

    by Baryonyx

    Glad you included THE SWORD OF DOOM: it has a great finale. I love the Lone Wolf series too, but I think Yojimbo remains my favorite samurai film.

  • Sept. 8, 2012, 4:01 a.m. CST

    codename

    by Baryonyx

    Isn't Hanzo a feudal cop, not a samurai?

  • Sept. 8, 2012, 5:22 a.m. CST

    Sword of Doom

    by NOBLOODNODALLAS

    I was always under the impression that Ryunosuke kills their child too.

  • Sept. 8, 2012, 5:25 a.m. CST

    Sword of Doom

    by NOBLOODNODALLAS

    I was always under the impression that Ryunosuke kills their child too.

  • Sept. 8, 2012, 5:34 a.m. CST

    13ASSASSINS does not exist in this dojo

    by Cobra--Kai

    mr. underwater yes THRONE OF BLOOD climax is quite something from an unsafe stunt perspective! Health and safety officer would have a field day with that one. Speaking of climaxes am I the only one who was really disappointed by the end of 13 ASSASSINS? ...SPOILER.. It was bowling along as a nice, gritty, realistic Samurai movie. Until the end when the wild man samurai who clearly gets killed with a sword through the throat... shows up again at the end unscathed. It wasnt done in a cool supernatural way - it was just goofy and kind of stoopid. The director was showing real restraint until that moment but it was like he couldnt resist spoiling his own film with that very silly and inexplicable moment.

  • Sept. 8, 2012, 5:46 a.m. CST

    Seven Samurai is still my favorite

    by NOBLOODNODALLAS

    followed closely by Yojimbo

  • Sept. 8, 2012, 6 a.m. CST

    I recently enjoyed...

    by Darkness

    Takeshi Miike's, "Hara Kiri - Death of A Samurai"; it harked back to the Kurosawa days: Haunting and atmospheric, with a timeless Ryuichi Sakamoto score. "Yojimbo" will always be top for me, for the the sheer gravitas of Mifune's performance - and again: One kick-ass score.

  • Sept. 8, 2012, 7:30 a.m. CST

    Ghost Dog

    by tangcameo

  • Its about a dad samurai (mifume) taking revenge for his dead boy samurai.

  • Sept. 8, 2012, 9:21 a.m. CST

    No ghost dog?

    by captain_kirk

    shit..

  • Sept. 8, 2012, 9:50 a.m. CST

    Zatoichi

    by eck_iii

    He's not a samurai, but the films fit into the samurai genre. The first Zatoichi film is amazing, the best in the series. The B&W cinematography is sublime. Great column, thanks.

  • Sept. 8, 2012, 10:47 a.m. CST

    Takeshi Shimura

    by Wyrdy the Gerbil

    When i started reading the article my first thought was Seven Samurai would be mentioned a lot and my second was Kambei is for me the person i would put at no1 as you say he embodies all the traits of a samurai ..compassion honour and respect he may be a Ronin but he hasnt lost his way ..having just watched Hari kiri though i would have put Tsukumo Hanshiro on the list i mean he fights the retainers to a stand still with a WOODEN sword

  • Sept. 8, 2012, 11:45 a.m. CST

    Ghost Dog

    by thelordofhell

    Forrest Whitaker was bad ass in that movie as an assassin who tries to live the Samurai Code.

  • Sept. 8, 2012, 11:49 a.m. CST

    Grammaton Cleric John Preston

    by thelordofhell

    Think outside the box.............

  • Sept. 8, 2012, 12:23 p.m. CST

    Should have been top ten, top five is ridiculous!

    by billprestonesquire

    Making a top five cinematic samurai list is jus silly. You are missing some key people in this list of yours. You don't have any 13 Assassins, remake or no. I understand that Zatoichi is not a samurai as a character, but he definitely has the heart and skills of one. AND, there is no mention of Nakadai Tatsuya anywhere!!!! That is absolutely insane! With the release of Miike's Hara Kiri, I was minded to watch the original again. Nakadai's performance is on par with any Of Mifune's best, period. Or, you could have picked his performance as the father from Ran. Where's Sonny Chiba in any of his countless movies? You also need to really look into watching some movies with Nakamura Kinnosuke. His performance in The Fall of Ako Castle makes me tear up when I watch it. I'm sorry, but anyone who writes a Top 5 Samurai list should have at least seen all of the Babycart/Lone Wolf series, if not read them as well. The books are far superior to the movie and stand as one of the best stories I have ever read, comics or not.

  • Sept. 8, 2012, 12:43 p.m. CST

    mistergreen - the movie is Hara-Kiri

    by gun_will_travel

    aka Seppuku remade in 2011 another excellent suggestion

  • Sept. 8, 2012, 12:43 p.m. CST

    Obijuanmartinez

    by BERSERKR

    Pretty sure Hanzo's weapon of choice was his dick :p

  • Sept. 8, 2012, 12:47 p.m. CST

    Non-Samurai samurai movies

    by gun_will_travel

    Interesting to see how many people are suggesting non-samurai movies like Redbelt. I would also throw in Robert DeNiro in Ronin, and Chow-Yun Fat in Crouching Tiger, and Dersu Uzala.

  • Sept. 8, 2012, 2:34 p.m. CST

    'Samurai Rebellion' is another bad-ass movie

    by mistergreen

  • Sept. 8, 2012, 2:44 p.m. CST

    Choose, Daigoro! The Sword or the Bouncing Ball . . .

    by elmo

    If you choose the ball, I'll send you to your mother. I would have loved to seen how the Daigoro character turned out as a grown up. A badder dude we'd never see. I remember one babycart movie where Daigoro was drowning in a river, one of the assassins hunting Ogami Ito took off his guns and jumped in the river to save him . . . only to see Daigoro stand up, the river only being about 1 foot deep. Then Ito jumped out and sliced him to bits. Cold stuff, great series.

  • Sept. 8, 2012, 3:44 p.m. CST

    Elmolincoln-Daigoro

    by billprestonesquire

    Seeing Daigoro grown up would ruin the ending of the comic series.

  • Sept. 8, 2012, 3:46 p.m. CST

    Samurai Rebellion

    by billprestonesquire

    Is truly amazing. It's also by the genius who brought us the original Hara-Kiri and stars the intense Nakadai Tatsuya. He is one of the best Jidaigeki directors of all time. And his movies manage to be so subversive.

  • Sept. 8, 2012, 4:56 p.m. CST

    KAMBEI!!!

    by D.Vader

  • Sept. 8, 2012, 5:09 p.m. CST

    billsprestonesquire: Comic series

    by elmo

    Who cares?

  • Sept. 8, 2012, 5:16 p.m. CST

    Hanzo the Razor!!!

    by Atkinson

    What a perverted Samurai! Loved that boobi-trapped house of his. :-)

  • Sept. 8, 2012, 6:41 p.m. CST

    No love for Ken Watanabe in "The Last Samurai"?

    by Mordock57

    C'mon... The man was nominated for an Oscar for his portrayal, which was both exceedingly realistic AND moving. Katsumoto is still one of my favorite characters in modern film. Honorable mention to "Ujio" in the film, who also kicked buckets of ass.

  • Sept. 8, 2012, 7:10 p.m. CST

    Great list - top 2 were perfect...

    by Last_of_the_Emurites

    The top 2 were perfect choices, and quite honestly, interchangeable.

  • Sept. 8, 2012, 7:15 p.m. CST

    Sho Kosugi!!!

    by ajit maholtra

  • Sept. 8, 2012, 8:35 p.m. CST

    Tom Cruise

    by phast freddy

    was the best samurai

  • Sept. 9, 2012, 12:28 a.m. CST

    Elmolincoln

    by billprestonesquire

    Rude much? In response to your "who cares" comment. You, like most people, probably haven't read the comic, and don't even know how great that story truly is. The comic/manga came first. The movies were written by the gentlemen who created the manga, and they based it on their comic. They never finished the story they had planned in movie form. If you want to know the whole story, you have to actually use your brain a little bit and do some reading. The books are much more in depth. They were also written to be extremely historically accurate, with a glossary at the end of each issue with much information. So, if you only know the movies, then you are missing the ending. Go ahead and don't care and wallow in your ingnorance. But why are you reading this thread if you don't care about Samurai and Jidaigeki?

  • Sept. 9, 2012, 12:33 a.m. CST

    Non samurai samurai:

    by Sean

    Comes down to their character, one who follows the eight birtues of the Bushi-Do code: Justice, courage, benevolence, politeness, honesty, honor, loyalty and self-control. Mike Terry from Redbelt...while I didn't get into it as much as I liked is a good choice. Given that you think of characters you live by a code, that possesses these admirable traits, I nominate Captain America...old fashioned, rock solid morals, fearless and without compromise. No wonder the Marvel universe reveres him. As much as I can't stand patriotism, or his costume much of the time, its Rogers' ideals that make him worthy. In a sense, Superman isn't far off personality wise. You could say it is a stretch but, Spider-Man has very samurai-esque qualities in his sense of responsibility, just, a refusal to kill. Batman, the same. And don't forget Wolverine. Less noble but totally selfless: John McClane. And I always saw El Mariachi as an odd, modern kind of samurai.

  • Sept. 9, 2012, 12:34 a.m. CST

    Ajit-Sho Kosugi

    by billprestonesquire

    I second that emotion! Althoughany would argue that Sho played Ninja in his films, not Samurai. But he and his son are so bad ass that they definitely deserve to be on some list!!!!

  • Sept. 9, 2012, 1:18 p.m. CST

    billsprestonesquire

    by elmo

    What are you, the continuity nazi? Excuse me if I don't drop to my knees blubbering and sniffling at your impassioned comic book defense. Again, double "Who Cares?" If continuity were etched in stone, then Superman would not be able to fly, Batman would carry a gun and sanctimonius geek boys would have nothing new to talk about.

  • Sept. 9, 2012, 3:45 p.m. CST

    THE NEW ONE ARMED SWORDSMAN (1971)

    by mygirleatsbannanas

    Saw it a few times in the 70s .A double bill with The Chinese Connection . The fight on the bridge Vs 500 guys . With one fucking arm !

  • Sept. 10, 2012, 12:29 a.m. CST

    Iguchi Seibe of Twilight Samurai

    by Franklancer

    was sadly left out..

  • Sept. 10, 2012, 4:42 a.m. CST

    Agree about Twilight Samurai.

    by Bedknobs and Boomsticks

  • Sept. 10, 2012, 4:43 a.m. CST

    Takeshi Shimura is great in Seven Samurai, but dull in the first two Godzillas.

    by Bedknobs and Boomsticks

  • Sept. 10, 2012, 10:36 a.m. CST

    Minor error on translation of Sanjuro's name

    by ron2112

    In Yojimbo, the character gives his name as "Kuwabatake Sanjūrō," which does translate to 30-year old mulberry field. In Sanjuro, he gives his name as "Tsubaki Sanjūrō," which translates to 30-year old Camellia.

  • Just sayin...

  • Sept. 10, 2012, 3:46 p.m. CST

    I never realized Elmo was such a Douche...

    by billprestonesquire

    No, generally Nazi is not usually used to categorize me. I'm not a Nazi, just entitled to my own opinion. On the other hand, I am most often a fairly nice person, not an A-hole like yourself. I was actually trying to educate you a little bit. Seeing how you like the Lone Wolf and Cub series, I thought you might like to know that there is actually more to the story then what's shown in the movies. But, judging from your character thus far, you probably don't read much. Im surprised you know how to use a keyboard and type full sentences. So, I doubt you care about learning about anything new anyway. It's too bad; there are many comics/manga out there that are wonderfully fun and awe inspiring. Even grown-up books are amazing! Maybe someday you'll be a grown up too, and then you can read like the rest of us adults, Elmo.

  • Sept. 10, 2012, 6:31 p.m. CST

    @order66: LOVED "Samurai Fiction" - Fun flick...

    by obijuanmartinez