Whether it is a certified Criterion Collection classic or just an exploitative bloody affair, there are few genres of film better than samurai movies. The drama, the plots, the— OK, fine it’s all about the fights, we admit it. It’s cool and badass to see two warriors go at it with swords in kickass choreography. But the other artsy stuff is worth bringing up, too.

Even if you’re not a fan of samurai films, you’re probably a fan of several cousins from it. Samurai movies have inspired other genres within popular culture such as science fiction, westerns, and superheroes, past and present. You wouldn’t get A Fistful of Dollars without Yojimbo, you wouldn’t get A Bug’s Life without The Seven Samurai, and you wouldn’t get Star Wars without The Hidden Fortress.

In no particular order, here are some of the best samurai films to watch in your spare time to feed the cinephile within.

Seven Samurai

Samurai movies 1954 Seven Samurai The classic Akira Kurosawa film is the template for several other samurai films, science fiction films, westerns, and even cartoons. A great tale of seven broken warriors attempting to defend a village against bandits. CRACKED.COM

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Lady Snowblood

Samurai movies 1973 Lady Snowblood A movie based on a manga, Lady Snowblood takes revenge on the criminals who sexually assaulted her mother and killed her father and brother. This was the inspiration for Tarantino's Kill Bill. CRACKED.COM

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The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi

Samurai movies 2003 The Blind Swordsman; Zatoichi Takeshi Kitano put his own spin on the character featured in several films from the 1960s-1980s. The movie great action and drama, and also quality lighthearted moments. CRACKED.COM

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Ran

Samurai movies 1961 Ran This is Akira Kurosawa's retelling of Shakespere's King Lear. The drama and the violence are heightened by the vibrant and stark colors. CRACKED.COM

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Sword of the Stranger

Samurai movies 2007 Sword of the Stranger This anime film is about a ronin taking care of a boy while being hunted by Ming swordsmen. It was submitted for consideration for Best Animated Feature in the 81st Academy Awards. CRACKED.COM

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The Twilight Samurai

Samurai movies 2002 The Twilight Samurai A grounded film following a working-class samurai as he juggles his duties as both a warrior and a family man. Still has katana fights, but includes some slice-of-life moments. CRACKED.COM

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When the Last Sword is Drawn

Samurai movies When the Last Sword is Drawn 2002 Loosely based on historical events, the movie follows two samurai during the fall of the Tokugawa shogunate. A lauded film that won Best Picture at the 2004 Japanese Academy Awards. CRACKED.COM

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The 47 Ronin

Samurai movies 1941 The 47 Ronin This is an adaptation of a stage play based on a historical event (not to be confused with the 2013 Keanu Reeves movie). When their lord is compelled to commit seppuku, a group of now- leaderless samurai team up to get revenge. CRACKED.COM

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The Lone Wolf and Cub Series

Samurai movies 1972-1980 The Lone Wolf and Cub Series Based on a manga, this film follows a shogun executioner who turns into an assassin-for- hire alongside his toddler son, with his sword and weaponized baby carriage in tow. A great and bloody series of films. CRACKED.COM

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The Hidden Blade

Samurai movies 2004 The Hidden Blade The movie takes place in the 1860s, when Japan was leaving samurai culture behind. In addition to samurai film staples, The Hidden Blade provides compelling love story. CRACKED.COM

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Heaven and Earth

Samurai movies 1990 Heaven and Earth A peaceful ruler must pick up his sword and defend his people against an invading, violent warlord, building to a satisfying showdown between the two. CRACKED.COM

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13 Assassins

Samurai movies 2010 13 Assassins The movie is a remake of a 1963 classic, featuring twelve samurai and a hunter trying to kill a murderous clan leader. Hyper violence directed by Takashi Miike. CRACKED.COM

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The Hidden Fortress

Samurai movies 1958 The Hidden Fortress The inspiration for Star Wars, the story is told from the POV of two bumbling, bickering civilians trying to find gold in the midst of a war between two rival clans. CRACKED.COM

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