Most samurai are benign entities, fighting for good and honor in the world. But even some of those samurai you probably wouldn't be too eager to meet, lest you accidentally offend him or his master and end up with your head rolling in the opposite direction to where you were going. And the really nasty samurai – eek. Here are seven movie samurai you should try to avoid at all costs.
Musashi Miyamoto, The "Samurai" Trilogy
Toshiro Mifune rocketed to stardom playing fearsome samurai (and bandits who were tougher than the the samurai they came up against). One of his most famous is real-life Japanese legend Musashi Miyamoto, whose rise from a "wild fool" to a skilled and honorable fighter is covered in the three "Samurai" movies. Trust us: If he can handle the guy with the steel ball and chain, he'll make quick work of you – even if you run into him during his early phase.
Kambei Shimada, "Seven Samurai"
Consider Shimada to be a stand-in for all seven of the samurai, otherwise this whole list would just be "Seven Samurai" characters. But even if you don't, Shimada alone is not to be trifled with. He might seem old or even harmless, but he will run you through quick as can be, especially if you're threatening an innocent. Good rule of thumb: Don't harm any innocents.
Mifune again, this time in his most iconic role as Sanjuro, the nameless ("sanjuro" is Japanese for "Thirty-something") samurai who walks into a town made up mostly of thieves, bandits, murderers, and other assorted criminal types who "deserve to die." And since it would be a bit dull for him to do all the killing himself, he turns both of the town's rival gangs against each other and lets them do some of the killing. He still gets to kill a lot of people though.
Jef Costello, "Le Samourai"
Not all movie samurai are Japanese guys with swords. Some of them are French guys with guns. Costello may not be a traditional samurai, but he lives his life as an assassin by the samurai code, placing a high premium on things like isolation, emotional detachment, and carrying out orders. And it works for him, for a while. Don't cross him in the mean time.
Ghost Dog, "Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai"
Which brings us to "Ghost Dog," about a savant assassin who must have watched "Le Samourai" considering how many of Jef's tricks he uses. And the samurai code thing is even more blatant, right down to practicing with a sword. So basically, what we have here is a probably mentally unstable individual who's an expert with both guns and swords. Do you really want to hang out with him?
Lone Wolf, "Shogun Assassin"
This is the American edit of the first two popular Japanese "Lone Wolf and Cub" movies, with all the complicated plot mechanics cut out and all of the bloody carnage left in. The end result is that you shouldn't be eager to run into either "Lone Wolf" OR "Cub," the kid he rolls around in a stroller that's also loaded with deadly weapons.
Zatoichi, "The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi"
Zatoichi has been in countless movies, but the basic idea is always the same: He's blind, he's a masseuse, he carries a sword cane, and he will kill you. You don't want to run into him in any of his incarnations, especially if you're a bad guy or associate with bad guys. Trust us, he will cut you in half. Your eyesight will not save you.