Three Classic Samurai Film Series

Musashi duels on the beach
Musashi duels on the beach

Samurai Trilogy: Musashi Miyamoto (3 films)

Based on a true story, Samurai chronicles the transformation of a violent, headstrong youth (played by Toshiro Mifune) into one of history’s greatest swordsmen. Samurai won the Academy Award for best foreign film in 1955, and is regarded by many as Japan’s own Gone With the Wind.

  • Samurai I: Musashi Miyamoto
  • Samurai II: Duel at Ichijoji Temple
  • Samurai III: Duel at Ganryu Island

Lone Wolf and Cub (6 films)

The victim of a vicious political plot, Ogami Itto loses his wife and his title as official executioner for the Shogun. After discovering the identity of his assailants—the evil Yagyu clan—Itto vows not to rest until he has personally escorted them to the gates of Hell. He travels Japan as a freelance assassin, tutoring his infant son Daigoro in the way of death, and preparing for a final showdown with Yagyu lord Retsudo.

  • Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengeance
  • Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart at the River Styx
  • Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart to Hades
  • Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart in Peril
  • Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart in the Land of Demons
  • Lone Wolf and Cub: White Heaven in Hell

Sword of Vengeance (1972)


Zatoichi (26 films!)

As a blind, homeless gambler, Ichi endures much scorn from his 19th-century countrymen. But when ridicule is followed by injustice, this happy-go-lucky vagabond shows his dangerous alter ego: master of iaijutsu, and invincible swordfighter.

  • The Tale of Zatoichi
  • The Tale of Zatoichi Continues
  • New Tale of Zatoichi
  • Zatoichi The Fugitive
  • Zatoichi On The Road
  • Zatoichi and the Chest of Gold
  • Zatoichi’s Flashing Sword
  • Fight, Zatoichi, Fight
  • Adventures of Zatoichi
  • Zatoichi’s Revenge
  • Zatoichi and the Doomed Man
  • Zatoichi and the Chess Expert
  • Zatoichi’s Vengeance
  • Zatoichi’s Pilgrimage
  • Zatoichi’s Cane Sword
  • Zatoichi the Outlaw
  • Zatoichi Challenged
  • Zatoichi and the Fugitives
  • Samaritan Zatoichi
  • Zatoichi Meets Yojimbo
  • Zatoichi at the Fire Festival
  • Zatoichi Meets the One Armed Swordsman
  • Zatoichi at Large
  • Zatoichi in Desperation
  • Zatoichi’s Conspiracy
  • Shintaro Katsu’s Zatoichi

Zatoichi’s Flashing Sword trailer

How many of these movies have you seen, and which were your favorites?


  1. I seen each of the three Samurai/Musashi films, I own the complete Lone Wolf and Cub movie series on DVD (it’s noticeable how Daigoro grows bigger throughout the series), and I saw some of the Zatoichi films.

    I also own Shogun Assassin 1, which was the combination of english-dubbed Lone Wolf 1 and 2 along with an awesome synthesizer soundtrack with it.

    You had a post on best samurai movies (not series) earlier as well, so my contribution to that list is “Sword of Doom” (like “Samurai”, it has Mifune, but not in the starring role). A movie that got critical praises was “Twilight Samurai”, which is on my list of movies to watch.

  2. … also to add to the trivia about these movies. The actor who played Ogami Itto in “Lone Wolf” – Tomisaburo Wakayama – is the older brother of the actor who played Zatoichi – Shintaro Katsu.

    I wonder who would win in a duel in both versions, the characters as well as the brothers!

  3. Al, Tomisaburo Wakayama killed 50 ninjas on skis–and I’m not sure he was acting!

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