Hey I'm having a Samurai Sunday with my friends who are less antiquated with older samurai films. I'm looking for a couple good movies to help introduce them to the genre. Any suggestions?
Depends a bit on your friend’s tastes, but I would go with a couple classics on different ends of the spectrum to introduce the genre.
First, Yojimbo. Because of how fun, badass, and hilarious it is, it’s a great entry point to the genre I think. Particularly if they’re fans of westerns (Sergio Leone essentially took Yojimbo, and put it in the American west to make A Fistful of Dollars). It also introduces Akira Kurosawa, Toshiro Mifune, and Tatsuya Nakadai (and quite a few other samurai movie ‘regulars’) which you’ll hopefully be seeing more of soon.
Next, I would go with my favorite, and perhaps the most dramatic and gut-wrenching- Harakiri. Many people don’t appreciate just how deep samurai movies can get, and brush them off as simple action flicks, but Harakiri proves just how complex they can be. Brilliant direction from another staple, Masaki Kobayashi, brilliant acting, lots of symbolism, questioning, and criticism of the samurai and Japanese society in general (many samurai films like this one where used to veil social commentary in a time where they would be censored). Despite the complexity, it’s not hard to follow or understand, but rather, a film that you’ll find more and more to appreciate with each viewing. One of the most amazing endings around also.
Good luck with your Samurai Sunday! We need more of those around. If you need more suggestions you can check the list on my page of course, but Criterion’s Samurai Cinema selection is a great list of guaranteed classics.
Nujabes || Battlecry (Samurai Champloo theme)
Tetsurō Tamba and Tatsuya Nakadai in Harakiri and Goyokin
Bandits vs Samurai Squadron - 1978