5) Ran (1985 Directed by Akira Kurosawa)
This film version inspired by Shakespeare’s King Lear and traditional samurai legends tells the story of a
king who divides his kingdom between his three sons and then watches as it dissolves into chaos. The sets are beautiful and the battles are magnificent (and without any use of CGI). It also contains one of the best evil female characters this side of Lady Macbeth in Lady Kaede whose manipulations add fuel to the fire.
4) Shogun (1980 directed by Jerry London)
This is a great primer on Japanese feudal culture as John Blackthorne (Richard Chamberlain) is
shipwrecked on the island nation we join him as his is immersed into an alien culture. The mini– series captures the greatness and savagery of the Samurai all the while telling a compelling story of Lord Toranaga and his quest to
become the Shogun, the supreme military ruler of all Japan. The film combines the history channel,
spike TV and a smidgeon of lifetime to make a flick that everyone should see.
3) Ghost Dog ( 1999 directed by Jim Jamusch)
This film may seem a unusual entry when compare to the other movies in the list, it’s not set on Japan, the
main character does not carry a katanna and most of the characters have no idea what Bushido is. The important parts are
all there, a warrior who has devoted his life to an ideal, his responsibility to a lord and the strength to do what he has to regardless of the consequences. Forest Whitaker does a great job as Ghost Dog narrating the story and explaining the philosophy behind the Samurai’s deadly arts.
2) The Last Samurai ( 2003 Directed by Edward Zwick)
What I thought was the best movie of 2003, the last samurai, combines the best aspects of Shogun with a
first rate action movie. The story tells of the American training of the Japanese army in the ways of modern warfare while one samurai strives to maintain a culture of devotion of discipline. It treats the culture with reverence and tells a hell of a good story.
1) Seven Samurai (1954 Akira Kurosawa)
Akira Korsawa’s masterpiece that told of seven samurai who united to protect a helpless village. More then a great yarn it also deals with passing of an age similar to the Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. If you haven’t seen do so. If you
have watch it again.