Bringing a knife to a gunfight is normally an ill-advised move but in the world of the martial arts, exceptions can be made for the masters of the blade. Anyone can fall on a sword, in fact it’s almost a prerequisite for any relationship but it’s the battles that raise goose bumps and make you cheer that matter like the six most epic samurai fights in movie history.


“Afro Samurai: Resurrection”

Variety might be the spice of life but for a good old knock down drag em out samurai fight, the right spice has to be vengeance with a dash of humility. “Afrosamurai: Resurrection” lays the fighting on thick and being animated there’s no boundaries to slam up against as Afro Samurai goes toe to toe with the clone of his father. Blades mesh with tension and technique as Afro Samurai fights for his life and the memory of his father making for one of the greatest samurai fights ever created.


“13 Assassins”

Takashi Miike doesn’t direct anything that you can be indifferent about as you’ll either flat out love it or hate it; there is no middle ground. In “13 Assassins” a group of samurai are hired to kill Lord Naritsugu, a sadistic power hungry future inheritor of the Shogunate, before his leadership wrecks the country. With talented swordplay and stunt work, the battle between the samurai and Lord Naritsugu’s overwhelming army is truly an epic fight that stands out as one of the best.


“The Samurai Princess”

With the majority of the budget spent on Karo syrup and sparks, don’t watch “The Samurai Princess” expecting classy action or coherent story. This is a dark and gory movie where the hero is an amalgamation of her dead friends, souls and all. This female version of Frankenstein’s monster does have one of the more insane fights in cinema as she goes toe to toe with another fused pile of death with metric tons of blood and weirdness. This is the drinking game movie you’ve been waiting for, and in self-confidence bordering on arrogance the ending makes room for a sequel.


“Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai”

Forest Whitaker has serious acting chops, but with “Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai” you have to wonder how far he wanted to stretch out as the whole movie has less the feel of a serious action movie and more the feel of a script that went twenty rounds with thirty different writers, somehow collapsing across the post-production finish line. Luckily this amalgamation created the epic samurai-code following hitman versus a ton of old, overweight mobsters battle that you need to see as Ghost Dog takes on the entire mafia to save his life and those he cares about. In the retirement home battle genre this ranks just below “Bubba Ho Tep” in ass-kickery.


“Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman”

Much like his counterpart, Rob the blind newspaper delivery guy, Zatoichi has taken up a career that his blindness doesn’t complement. Luckily blind swordsmen don’t last very long unless they are talented beyond measure as is the case in “Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsmen”. You can’t throw a rock without hitting an epic fight in this movie, but for the money, Zatoichi’s fight in the rain with the villainous underlings of a Yakuza boss has everything an epic Samurai battle needs from overwhelming odds, moody weather and a skilled protagonist.


“The Hunted”

No matter how highly trained a Samurai is, the addition of a white guy companion can bring those deadly skills to new heights by a kind of mystical osmosis commonly referred to as Caucasoid Gratuitousimus. In “The Hunted” the overly sunburn sensitive additive is played by Christopher Lambert, he of the gritty chuckle, who “assists” Takeda, the last of a Samurai family. Of course ninjas are involved, mainly because a Samurai battle against the local Curves for Women just doesn’t bring in the sales figures like ninjas do. That and there’s no way the Samurai would win even in a fantasy world. Takeda’s fight against the ninjas on the bullet train as he calmly turns a retreat into an offensive ploy is one of the cooler samurai fights you’ll bear witness to.