Films Men Should See (Kurosawa)

If I could only watch one filmmaker’s work for the rest of my life, it would be Akira Kurosawa. Hands down.

The brilliance of his storytelling and direction will never be duplicated, he was an absolute Master, and watching his films is tapping into a source of knowledge.

I fear that the ability to focus is being lost nowadays. Kurosawa films require focus, attention to detail, and close observation.

And the rewards are great.

All of Kurosawa’s work is excellent, but my favorites are his Samurai epics.

The Samurai is such a foreign concept, so far removed from our modern culture, and so fascinating.

A man who devotes his life to perfection, discipline, and honor will always be a source of inspiration.

You can easily apply those concepts to your game and lifestyle as well.

Draw from the ideas and become stronger.

Here are three of my favorite Kurosawa films, they all revolve around the Samurai.

The Hidden Fortress (1958)


The film that George Lucas based Star Wars on.

A true adventure in every sense of the word, and done in a completely original fashion.

The two peasants that the film revolves around are some of the most despicable men I have ever seen in a movie.

Weak, stupid, selfish, greedy, slimy, and stubborn, they represent everything ugly about human nature.

Yet, you don’t hate them. They have a charm that keeps you captured. An example of truly brilliant acting.

The story is fantastic, each scene is gripping, and the adventure comes together in a perfect ending.

And the girl who plays the princess is incredibly beautiful.

This movie is pure fun.

Yojimbo (1961)


Interesting is the word for this one.

A lone Samurai (ronin) wandering the world comes across a town where the residents are all evil.

He plays both sides of the two feuding gangs and watches as they exterminate each other.

I absolutely love the ronin in this film.

He is incredibly observant, amoral, and loves a good time. He doesn’t want to miss anything…even if it means that he puts himself in imminent danger.

A Fistfull of Dollars was based on this movie, and so were countless other Westerns.

Its a good one.

Ran (1985)


An epic if there ever was one.

I’m glad that this one was made in color because the costumes in it are a sight to behold.

The use of color in the movie is incredible, from the dusty, bleak landscapes, to the skin tone that changes as the characters change.

Every detail counts.

A lot of Kurosawa films are based on Shakespeare plays.

This one is along the same vein as King Lear.

An aging Lord has a moment of euphoria when he is enjoying his time with his sons and friends out on a hunt in the wilderness.

While he is overcome with emotion, he steps down as Lord and divides his kingdom among the sons.

That one decision where he lets his guard down leads to absolute turmoil.

The themes in this film are deep and poignant: pride, loyalty, honor, deception, truth, backbone, evil, and love between family is all explored.

You come out of this film knowing that you just witnessed something spectacular.

*Check out other film recommendations here.

About Goldmund

Goldmund grew up a wild-child and was constantly being disciplined. Using ancient rituals and game, he broke free from the shackles of his mind and the norms of this backwards society. He frequents bars in Brooklyn, mountains in Mexico, and retreats to the desert. His passions are nature and women.

11 comments on “Films Men Should See (Kurosawa)

  1. I remember seeing “RAN” when it came out with several college buddies. I don’t recall the group of us being speechless for any length of time anywhere; but Akira Kurosawa silenced us for the duration of his cinematic masterpiece. The Master showed us just how the medium of film could transport and overwhelm the mind if executed correctly. I watch “RAN” twice a year and I think I’m still as mesmerized by that film now as I was back in college.

    • A masterpiece to be sure. Two others I would add which have not been mentioned yet in this thread are The Seven Samurai and Throne of Blood. I don’t know Shakespeare but I think I remember hearing Throne of Blood was inspired by MacBeth. In any case they’re both superb films.

  2. I’ve seen some Kurosawa movies including these films, and concur. However, Yojimbo had a sequel you might not know about, and has not been adapted into a western to my knowledge. It’s called Sanjuro and, unlike the average sequel, is even better than the first one. At least I think so. I strongly recommend it.

      • Mifune in The Hidden Fortress gives a performance that made me suffer an unholy man-crush on him that rivals Archer’s man-crush on Burt Reynolds.

        Did you hear Ken Takakura just died? The “Clint Eastwood” of Japanese cinema?

        PS: Have you seen the remake of 13 Assassins? The Die Hard of Samurai Movies!!

  3. Throne of Blood was MacBeth for Japanese.
    The Seven Samurai is as good or even better than Lawrence of Arabia.
    Sanshuro Sugata was the original Karate Kid (actually, Judo Kid).
    Kagemusha (The Shadow Warrior)…what a spectacle!

    Gotta say it: Coppola, Lean, Kubrick, Scorcese…great directors all.

    Kurasawa was the master!

  4. Kurosawa’s style of direction isn’t that uncommon in Japan, although he, of course is one of the best at it. So, I’ve found to my initial surprise that the Japanese themselves don’t always hold him in as high regard as Westerners do. Anyway, one of my favorites is “Roshomon.” A Japanese girl once told me I was weird to like it so much.

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