Movies - TV
16 Underrated Samurai Movies You Need To Watch
By LEO NOBORU LIMA
Serpent
“Serpent” is a film contrary to the traditional samurai story as the protagonist comes from the lower class and is constantly beaten down by a cruel aristocratic world. The movie’s subversive message and focus on an underdog hero recentering the samurai’s moral fiber became its source of enduring popularity.
Humanity and Paper Balloons
Sadao Yamanaka’s “Humanity and Paper Balloons” is a story about the brutal indifference towards the disenfranchised under the feudal system. The film explores the meaninglessness of certain institutions and uncloaks the samurai as a profession beholden by the notion of money and power like any other.
The 47 Ronin
Though Kenji Mizoguchi’s “The 47 Ronin” was part of the pro-war propaganda campaign, Mizoguchi crafted a detailed, historically accurate epic drama grappling with the film’s moral impasses. Mizoguchi focused less on glorified violence and reactionary nostalgia, instead exploring the traditional themes of honor and sacrifice.
Bloody Spear at Mount Fuji
“Bloody Spear at Mount Fuji” follows a samurai with a drinking problem and two companions traveling the country towards Edo. Despite the movie’s breezy tone and plentiful comedy, the film serves as an examination of Edo-era society and its many issues, through the trio’s various troubles and encounters along the way.
Samurai Saga
A reimagining of Edmond Rostand’s play “Cyrano de Bergerac,” “Samurai Saga” follows the plot closely, including its elaborate farce and sweeping romance. The movie stars Toshiro Mifune, arguably the chanbara genre’s most iconic figure, in one of his best performances, alongside fellow icons Yōko Tsukasa and Akira Takarada.