5 Kurosawa Films That Every Samurai Fan Should Watch

Thursday, November 24 by Joseph Gibson

Kurosawa

A list of 5 Kurosawa films that every samurai fan should watch would be useful. How is a samurai fan supposed to get his samurai fix? Akira Kurosawa made many movies, but fans consider his best stuff as the ones involving those wandering warriors. Here are five Kurosawa films that every samurai fan should watch.

Yojimbo

"Yojimbo" "Yojimbo" is one of those rare movies that created a genre and was never topped in that genre. In this case, that genre is "lone badass strides into town and starts kicking ass." The lone badass in this case is played by Toshiro Mifune, who should be a familiar face to any samurai fan. The movie shows off many tricks in Kurosawa's bag, including a gift for what's become a cliche in action movies: badass one-liners. The most famous one goes like this: After killing two men and chopping another one's arm off, Mifune says to the village coffin-maker, "Cooper. Two coffins… No, maybe three." This movie has been ripped off, copied and remade so many times it might be tough to appreciate just how unique it really is.

Seven Samurai

"Seven Samurai" Not only is this a Kurosawa film that every samurai fan should watch, it's a film every person should watch. That's because, like "Yojimbo," it pretty much created its own genre that's been worked over and imitated ever since. In this movie's case, that genre is "a variety of different people with different skills team up against a common threat." You can see "Seven Samurai's" influence in everything from its direct western remake "The Magnificent Seven" to more distant relatives like Quentin Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds." But the movie itself is valuable for more than just historical value—it's entertaining as hell, featuring almost every cinematic trick that was in the book in 1954, plus the action scenes are still more exciting than most.

Throne of Blood

"Throne of Blood" Sometimes when Akira Kurosawa made a samurai movie, he wanted to do more than just make an exciting action/adventure. With "Throne of Blood," Kurosawa was adapting in one of his favorite writers: William Shakespeare. More specifically, Shakespeare's "Macbeth" reimagined as a samurai movie. While the emphasis is more on character and creepy atmosphere than swordplay and action, there is an unforgettable scene in which Toshiro Mifune is attacked by a seemingly endless stream of arrows.

Rashomon

"Rashomon" Here's another Kurosawa film that every samurai fan should watch because of its huge influence on movies going forward. With "Rashomon," Kurosawa pioneered a variety of cinematic techniques (such as pointing the camera directly at the sun), but most importantly he introduced the idea that the camera could act as a kind of unreliable narrator. The movie is about 4 different people's testimony about a murder and each person's testimony is portrayed in the movie, leaving the audience to decide which actually happened. The movie's impact goes beyond movies, too—attorneys and police officers know all about the "'Rashomon' effect," which causes eyewitness testimony to be notoriously unreliable.

Sanjuro

"Sanjuro" After watching a few Kurosawa films, many samurai fans might be craving something a bit lighter. If so, "Sanjuro," Kurosawa's sequel to "Yojimbo" is just what the doctor ordered. Much more emphasis is put on comedy, but your badass itch will still be scratched, particularly in a final fight scene that was one of the first to show the kind of torrential blood spurt that is a familiar sight to samurai fans nowadays.

There you have it, five Kurosawa films that every samurai fan should watch. And the beauty of Kurosawa is you have plenty more to watch once you get finished with these five. Just remember: Swords are not as easy to use as they might look in the movies. Be careful and don't hurt yourself.

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