Recommended Movies

Here are some live-action chanbara (sword fighting) movies that I really enjoyed:

Mibu Gishi Den – When the Last Sword is Drawn (2003)

This is my all time favorite live action samurai movie. Taking place during the Bakumatsu, Yoshimura Kanichiro is forced to join the Shinsengumi in order to support his family. Saito Hajime is also one of the main characters, and serves as a rival to Yoshimura. This movie has tons of awesome sword fights, while telling a touching and human story about an inhumane time. If they made a live-action Kenshin movie, it would probably be a lot like this. This movie is a must see for any Kenshin fan.


Twilight Samurai (2002) & The Hidden Blade (2004)

These two movies are directed by the same person, and both based on stories by the same author. As a result, they are very similar movies. The pace was slower than most movies, and there was not that much action, but I never found myself bored because the characters and story were so engaging.


Hitokiri / Tenchu (1969)

Another movie about the Bakumatsu. This time focusing one of the four hitokiri, Okada Izo. While this portrayal of Okada made him seem too much of a clutz to be a highly skilled elite assassin, the scenary of Kyoto and night-time assassinations made up for it and really reminded me of Kenshin.


Sword of Doom (1966)

Even though it’s black and white, this movie is still very watchable. It’s pacing and over the top action was way ahead of the time. This movie follows Ryunosuke, an evil samurai who doesn’t care about anything except killing. After fleeing from his clan, he works as an assassin, and later joins the Shinsegumi. The ending was very abrupt because it was supposed to be the first of a trilogy that never got made.