Top Samurai Movies of 21st Century

top samurai movies or films

The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi - 2003

Takeshi Kitano's - Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman
In 2003, Takeshi Kitano presented the revival of Zatoichi, the classic fictional Samurai legend of television series and Samurai films with The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi. Starring, Written, Edited and Directed by Takeshi Kitano, the movie became the biggest commercial success of Kitano's illustrious career. The movie was also a major critical success winning numerous awards including the Audience Award for Best Film and the Silver Lion for Best Director at the 2003 Venice Film Festival.

'Beat' Takeshi stars as the legendary 'blind' masseur and Samurai with a weakness for dice, and senses mastered to beat even the most skilled swordsman. He is also a gentlemen who treats women with respect, and likes to mingle with people, despite being a loner traveling from village to village handing out justice wherever needed. The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi is distinctively Kitano who infuses new life into the classic legend, with laudable efforts both behind and in-front of the camera,  and is largely aimed at the mainstream with it's complex and interesting screenplay, rich fight sequences and comical undertone throughout the running time that makes it a supremely charming  and  entertaining affair.  (Read Review)

The Last Samurai - 2003

The Last Samurai starring Tom Cruise
The Last Samurai needs no introduction. No other Samurai film (including the Akira Kurosawa classics) has ever achieved popularity and commercial success of such proportions. The box-office success was also helped by the fact that it starred Tom Cruise and one of the biggest stars in Japan, Ken Watanabe. Apart from the masses, the critics also responded with mixed to positive reviews. It was nominated for 4 Oscars and 3 Golden Globes.
  The Last Samurai is a beautifully crafted film that romanticizes the Samurai culture and their code of honor, and remains loyal to it's theme. It is also a tale of introspective reflection and self redemption for Nathan Algren. Tom Cruise impresses with arguably the most challenging performance of his career. Ken Watanabe is in familiar territory as Samurai Lord Katsumoto, rebelling against the quick and corrupt westernization of Japan. The Last Samurai brilliantly combines epic war scenes and impressive action sequences with personal challenges and struggles, coupled with universal themes of love, sacrifice and honor. 

Yoji Yamada's 'The Hidden Blade'
The 2nd installment of Yoji Yamada's acclaimed Samurai trilogy, The Hidden Blade stars Masatoshi Nagase as Munezo Katagiri, a lowly 50 koku Samurai with a simple existence but a strong belief and respect for the Samurai code. Set in 1860s, the backdrop presents a period of treachery and secret mutinies against the lords and the Shogunate as Japan approach the era of Meiji restoration. Katagiri finds himself in a moral dilemma when he's ordered by the clan to kill a old friend who was accused of rebellion and treachery. But the soul of the film is Katagiri's subdued love interest for his beautiful and noble maid kei (Takako Matsu), whom he rescues from her abusive husband and in-laws. Nominated for an impressive 12 Japanese Academy Awards, The Hidden blade succeeds as another Yoji Yamada Samurai classic that is tranquil yet moving, and captivates with exciting moments, great direction and performances. (Read Review)

Takashi Miike's - 13 Assassins
13 Assassins is a Samurai Epic based on a true incident from the controversial and provocative Japanese auteur Takashi Miike. The movie received high nominations in both the Japanese Academy Awards and Asian Film Awards, in addition to a Golden Lion nomination at the 2010 Venice Film festival. Along with the fine direction, the movie was also praised for it's technical brilliance.

The story revolves around a group of Samurai who come together to assassinate the evil lord Naritsugu. 13 Assassins is reminiscent of Kurosawa's 'Seven Samurai', though not as deep, but grittier, bloodier and a lot more entertaining. Like so many other Samurai tales, the movie is about courage, duty, justice, sacrifice, and above all, honor. This is undoubtedly the greatest work by the brilliant director till date, and complemented by a great technical team and a superb cast. 13 Assassins has set a new benchmark for epic samurai movies. (Read Review)

The Twilight Samurai (Tasogare Seibei) - 2002

The Twilight Samurai
Directed by the Veteran Yoji Yamada, The Twilight Samurai is the first film of the acclaimed Samurai Trilogy. The movie opened to widespread critical acclaim and was nominated for an Oscar in the Best Foreign Feature Film category and an unprecedented 12 Japanese Academy Awards.
 The Twilight Samurai revolves around a petty Samurai Iguchi Seibei, a single parent taking care of two young daughters and a senile mother on a measly stipend. Yoji Yamada presents a very authentic portrayal of a 'ordinary' Samurai, a clear departure from the action-figures that Samurais are generally portrayed as on celluloid. Hiroyuki Sanada brilliantly portrays the paradoxical hero, a Samurai with all the expected qualities of the medieval warrior class, but still being an antithesis of the Samurai legend. The Twilight Samurai is impeccable in it's subtlety. It's a gentle and humanistic depiction of a Samurai and the lives of those around him. (Read Review)