Gaijin Appetizer Platter: Beginner Recommendations

Seven SamuraiAkira Kurosawa (1954)
Start right here with the ultimate samurai movie. Don't be intimidated by the three-hour-plus running time – the entertaining action and adventure makes the time fly by.

HarakiriMasaki Kobayashi (1962)
Artistic and technical perfection, with an intensely gripping and suspenseful story that anyone can relate to. No prior knowledge of jidai-geki traditions or Japanese history necessary.

RashomonAkira Kurosawa (1950)
You say Rashomon looks old and boring? That's not how I remember it!

The Zatoichi classics – starring Shintaro Katsu (25 films, 1962-1973)
The beloved blind swordsman makes a great entry point into good old meat n' potatoes chambara. You don't have to watch the series in order, so start with any of the Shintaro Katsu classics – NOT the 2003 remake with a blond-haired guy.

The Lone Wolf and Cub series – (1972-1974)
Avoid if you dislike extreme bloody violence. Otherwise, these six classics about a bad-ass ronin assassin and his cute toddler son are huge fun. Skip the English-dubbed Shogun Assassin in favor of the unsullied originals.

13 Assassins – Takashi Miike (2010)
This widely distributed minor hit is the best samurai movie of the past 25 years, in my opinion, and a very accessible opportunity for the average viewer to experience the flavor of genuine old-time chambara.

The Jidai-Geki Knights