Japanese action movies have had an unprecedented amount of influence on movies the world over. When you sit down to watch the latest Hollywood action blockbuster, chances are decent you’ll be seeing something plundered from a Japanese action movie. The samurai film is probably the most popular type of Japanese action film, with stories of lone warriors on a quest to fulfill their destiny. This list of Japanese actions movies is a great place to find the best the island nation has to offer, whether it’s for a weekend movie night, or the inspiration for your next film.
Seven Samurai was directed by Akira Kurosawa, considered by some to be the greatest Japanese auteur of all time. The film was later remade into the popular western The Magnificent Seven.
Yojimbo, also by Kurosawa, is about a drifting samurai who winds up in a town run by gangsters. The two main characters of Yojimbo served as George Lucas’s inspiration for the plight of C-3PO and R2D2 at the beginning of Star Wars: A New Hope.
Battle Royale, directed by Kinji Fukasaku, is a cult classic about a group of Japanese school children that end up on an island and are forced to kill each other as part of a government run program. Quentin Tarantino declared the film his absolute favorite of the 21st century, and it's pretty much the exact plot of the popular Hunger Games franchise.
This Japanese action movies list is especially great for those unfamiliar with Japanese cinema, so use it as a starting point to discover these brilliant films.
Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend EndsEmi Takei, Yū Aoi
Directed by: Keishi Ohtomo
High and Low
Directed by: Akira KurosawaSeven Samurai is a 1954 Japanese Jidaigeki adventure film co-written, edited, and directed by... more on Wikipedia
Directed by: Takashi Miike13 Assassins is a 2010 Japanese samurai film directed by Takashi Miike and is a remake of... more on Wikipedia
Directed by: Kinji FukasakuBattle Royale is a 2000 Japanese action thriller film adapted from the 1999 novel of the same... more on Wikipedia
Directed by: Akira KurosawaSanjuro is a 1962 black-and-white Japanese samurai film directed by Akira Kurosawa and... more on Wikipedia
The Hidden Fortress
Directed by: Akira KurosawaRashomon is a 1950 Japanese period drama film directed by Akira Kurosawa, working in close... more on Wikipedia
- 10Zatoichi is a fictional character featured in one of Japan's longest running series of films... more on Wikipedia2215
Directed by: Akira KurosawaYojimbo is a 1961 jidaigeki film directed by Akira Kurosawa. It tells the story of a... more on Wikipedia
KingdomKento Yamazaki, Ryô Yoshizawa
Directed by: Shinsuke Sato
Directed by: Takashi MiikeThis film is a 2001 Japanese film directed by Takashi Miike, written by Sakichi Sato, and... more on Wikipedia
Directed by: Akira Kurosawa, Ishirō HondaKagemusha is a 1980 film by Akira Kurosawa. In Japanese, kagemusha is a term used to denote a... more on Wikipedia
Directed by: Akira KurosawaThrone of Blood is a 1957 Japanese film directed by Akira Kurosawa. The film transposes the... more on Wikipedia
Directed by: Akira KurosawaRan is a 1985 Japanese-French jidaigeki epic film directed and co-written by Akira Kurosawa.... more on Wikipedia
Directed by: Kenji MizoguchiUgetsu or Ugetsu Monogatari is a 1953 black-and-white Japanese film directed by Kenji... more on Wikipedia
Directed by: Akira KurosawaRed Beard is a 1965 Japanese film directed by Akira Kurosawa about the relationship between a... more on Wikipedia
Directed by: Toshiya FujitaLady Snowblood is a 1973 Japanese film directed by Toshiya Fujita and starring Meiko Kaji. It... more on Wikipedia
Directed by: Shusuke KanekoAzumi 2: Death or Love is a Japanese jidaigeki film written Mataichiro Yamamoto and Yoshiaki... more on Wikipedia
Woman in the Dunes
Directed by: Yoji YamadaThe Twilight Samurai or Tasogare Seibei is a 2002 Japanese film directed by Yoji Yamada. Set... more on Wikipedia
- 23The Godzilla (ゴジラ Gojira?) franchise is a series of multi-media featuring... more on Wikipedia
Directed by: Akira KurosawaStray Dog is a 1949 Japanese police procedural film noir directed by Akira Kurosawa and... more on Wikipedia