A good movie will draw you into the world it has created and make you feel part of it. So much so, that there’s a chance you’ll leave the theater after with a bit of an adrenaline rush. Maybe the latest Bond flick has you feeling like you can be the next 007. Maybe an over-the-top car chase has you pressing on the gas pedal and drifting like a pro. Maybe the story of a talented musician has you thinking you could pick up a guitar and strum a perfect rhythm.
Most of the time we’re left with wanting more. We want something similar, yet new at the same time. We don’t want to watch the same film again, we want to watch something that pairs nicely.
Here at ScreenAge Wasteland, we’ve selected six films that you should watch during quarantine if you want to watch samurai do their thing!
Samurai Reincarnation | Sailor Monsoon
After surviving the slaughter of thousands of Christians, a samurai denounces God and sells his soul to Satan in an attempt to resurrect the dead to join him in a murderous rampage. The easiest way to sell this film is to say that it’s like a Seven Samurai remake directed by Mario Bava where everyone’s dead and the climax takes place in hell. It also includes an eye patched Sonny Chiba brandishing a laser whip/lasso to defeat enemies. The only negative is that the English dub is awful. Not like funny bad like a Godzilla film, just straight up awful. But if you can overlook that, the film will be the most badass new discovery you’ll have this month. I guarantee it.
Samurai Reincarnation is available on YouTube.
13 Assassins | Vincent Kane
Takashi Miike’s 13 Assassins has everything and then some that you would want in an action movie. It is a gorgeous big-budget epic that delivers a despicable villain and worthy heroes to stop his barbaric reign. If you like long intense battles, well the last 45 minutes of the film is dedicated to an ambitious and draining confrontation of non-stop action. If you enjoy Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai, you will enjoy this.
American Samurai | Billy Dhalgren
Take Bloodsport, throw in swords and spears and axes and shit, replace Van Damme with David Bradley (a guy with even less acting talent and screen presence than Van Damme, if you can believe it), and make the villain the Miyagi-samurai-ninja-mentor’s biological son (played by Mark Dacascos) gone evil with jealousy, finish it off with inferior editing, cinematography, acting, direction, score, special effects, costume design, and pretty much everything else you can think of, and you’ve got American Samurai, directed by Sam Firstenberg (of American Ninja fame).
Why would I recommend a movie this bad? Because it’s got some great samurai sword fights and, really, just great choreography in general. And severed limbs. And it’s got a fight contestant that wears a Conan costume.
What more can you ask for?
American Samurai might or might not be available on a streaming service whose name begins with You and ends in Tube. Maybe.
Yojimbo | K. Alvarez
This is hands down my favorite Akira Kurosawa film and Is exactly what I want the new Obi-Wan TV show on Disney+ to be based on. So I’m sure they will do the exact opposite. But anyway, I love this movie. It’s a basic tale of a nameless ronin who comes to a small village where two businessmen are struggling for control of the local gambling trade. The ronin plays both sides equally and sets in motion a full-scale gang war. This film was such a huge success that Kurosawa’s next film, Sanjuro, was altered to incorporate the lead character of this film.
Blade of the Immortal | Lee McCutcheon
Never before has watching a movie felt more like a video game brought to life, than in Blade of the Immortal. Based on a popular manga series and directed by the legendary Takeshi Miike, we follow Manji, a highly skilled samurai in feudal Japan who promises to help a young woman avenge the death of her parents. He is also cursed with immortality. Full of ridiculous blood-soaked violence, we get epic fight after epic fight. It’s not all blood and guts though, as we are treated to some gorgeous cinematography along with a decent slice of trademark Miike charm. It is a modern samurai epic.
Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart at the River Styx | Bob Cram
For the longest time my only experience with the Lone Wolf and Cub series was the First Comics reprints of the original manga by Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima. I still have a bunch of them in my basement, and they’re fantastic (and the Dark Horse collections are also worth tracking down). I only recently got to see the original six films based on them, as part of the Criterion Collection package. While they’ve all got things to recommend them, my favorite of the bunch is Baby Cart at the River Styx – the second film in the cycle. It’s full of just the most awesome samurai battles, crazy sword ladies, booby-trapped baby carts, fights on burning ships, ninja assassins, and the three Hidari brothers – known as The Gods of Death. (And who will seem familiar to fans of Big Trouble in Little China.) Deliriously over-the-top and just a joy to watch.
What are some movies featuring samurai that you have watched recently?