Samurai films are one of the most popular genres of film around the world. Historically, the genre is usually set during the Tokugawa era (1600–1868), the samurai film focuses on the end of an entire way of life for the samurai, many of the films deal with masterless ronin, or samurai dealing with changes to their status resulting from a changing society. In this list we cover over a 50 year span of cinema.
A samurai film must include samurai warriors, sword fighting, and historical setting. Samurai warriors, in film, are differentiated from other warriors by the code of honor, bushido, followed to honor the samurai’s leader. Bushido did not become codified till the seventeenth century. A samurai must perforce be skilled in warfare and martial arts and ready to defend his honor even to his death. If not able to defend his honor, a samurai may choose to commit self-disembowelment, seppuku, in order to save reputation or “face.” Instead, a samurai may exact vengeance in a case of the loss of someone the samurai cared about, such as occurs in the film Harakiri. In Harakiri.