Top Ten Samurai Films

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7. Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai

If I had my way this movie would be #1 on this list. Hell, this movie would be #1 on every list. It is without a doubt my favorite film, but as I want to be fair to the entire Samurai Cinema genre here Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai sits at #7. This Samurai film is unlike any Samurai film out there, and certainly unlike any other film on this list. It’s a curious blend of street wise hip-hop culture, mafioso gangster happenings, and Samurai teachings. Were this story in the hands of a lesser filmmaker it’d be an absolute train wreck, but director Jim Jarmusch is no ordinary filmmaker. The legendary indie filmmaker manages to balance all the different genre collisions in this film masterfully. This is a story of Ghost Dog, a hitman for the Italian-American Mob who lives by a strict code, the code of the Samurai. Throughout the movie Ghost Dog reads from the Hagakure, the book of the Samurai, and presents us with key elements from the Samurai code. The juxtaposition between these musings and the happenings within the story, be it Ghost Dog or the Mafia, marry together so perfectly that it’s a wonder no one attempted a film like this before. With a score by the RZA every moment.

Fun Facts:

  • The lead role was written specifically for Forrest Whitaker. Had Whitaker turned it down the film wouldn’t have been produced
  • RZA’s debut as an actor
  • The voice over quotes in the film come from the book “Hagakure: The Way of the Samurai” written by Yamamoto Tsunetomo in the 1700’s
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  • steve hubbell

    Top 10 Samurai films (sort of) listed by release date rather than arbitrary ranking

    1. Seven Samurai (Kurosawa 1954)
    2. Yojimbo (Kurosawa 1962) / Sanjuro (Kurosawa 1963)
    3. Hara Kiri (Kobayashi 1962)
    4. Three Outlaw Samurai (Gosha 1963)
    5. Revenge (Imai 1964)
    6. Sword of the Beast (Gosha 1965)
    7. The Sword of Doom (Okamoto 1966)
    8. Samurai Rebellion (Kobayashi 1967)
    9. Kill! (Okamoto 1968)
    10. Goyokin (Gosha 1969)

    Honorable Mentions….

    11. Thirteen Assassins (Kudo 1963)
    12. The Great Killing (Kudo 1964)
    13. Eleven Samurai (Kudo 1966)
    14. Incident at Blood Pass (Inagaki 1970)

    No remakes, no Hollywood imitations, no animation, just the cream of the crop of samurai films available in the US on officially released DVDs with English subtitles.

    • Going old school I see. Nice list!

    • Niels Koomans

      Azumi?

  • Good Man

    Is this list a joke?