Showdown in little Tokyo: 20 Japanese militants

Residents of the Land of the Rising Sun know a lot about the conduct of hostilities, whether it is a full-scale war or criminal showdowns. Noble samurai, quirky ninja, ruthless yakuza, wandering martial artists – these martial heroes are just asking for the big screen. In our selection of the best Japanese action movies, you will find films with famously twisted intrigue, mind-blowing action choreography and colorful characters.

Rurouni Kenshin: The Beginning (2021)

In a spectacular Japanese movie novelty, a ruthless assassin sent many people to the next world, but after another war, he repented of his bloody craft. The cruel killer swore not to take the life of any living creature. The hero travels around the country and helps people to atone for their sins. An encounter with a cunning arms dealer forces the skilled warrior to once again unsheath his katana.

What do you think, is it worth filming a sequel, and what should be in it?

Original title:
Ruroni Kenshin: Saishusho 2

Actors:
Takeru Sato, Kasumi Arimura, Issey Takahashi …

Country:
Japan

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.1, IMDb – 7.5

Age limit:
18+


Kingdom (2019)

An exciting Japanese action film that will take the viewer several centuries before our era. In the era of the Warring States, two boys train hard and dream of becoming great generals. An official passing by notes that one of the guys is very similar to the prince and takes the guy with him. In a few years, the double of the ruler, dying from wounds, will return to his old friend.

Original title:
Kingdom

Actors:
Kento Yamazaki, Ryo Yoshizawa, Masami Nagasawa …

Country:
Japan

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.6, IMDb – 6.5

Age limit:
16+


First love (2019)

A failed boxer is given a fatal diagnosis. A frustrated athlete runs into a drug addicted prostitute on the run from the Yakuza and the police . A chance encounter with Monica awakens Leo’s zest for life. Boxer decides to help the night butterfly escape from his pursuers. All the power of law enforcement and the mafia is directed against a strange couple, but the power of love can be more effective than any weapon.

Original title:
Hatsukoi

Actors:
Masataka Kubota, Sakurako Konishi, Nao Omori…

Country:
Japan, United Kingdom

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.5, IMDb – 6.8

Age limit:
16+


Inuyashiki (2018)

In a fantasy action movie, a lonely and useless old man from Japan is accidentally destroyed by aliens . In order not to attract attention, the aliens create a robot with the appearance and consciousness of the victim. The old man in the body of an android receives incredible abilities and wants to direct amazing powers for the benefit of people. Another victim of aliens – a cynical teenager – also becomes a robot, but the teenager plans to exterminate all the inhabitants of Japan.

Original title:
Inuyashiki

Actors:
Noritake Kinashi, Takeru Sato, Kanata Hongo…

Country:
Japan

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.6, IMDb – 6.6


Blade of the Immortal (2017)

Guilt-ridden by the death of his sister, the samurai wanders, killing and bringing trouble upon himself. An elderly nun infects a warrior with parasites that grant immortality . Only by destroying a thousand villains, Manji will be able to get a deliverance potion from the old woman and finally die. Together with a young brave girl, very similar to her dead sister, the samurai goes on a redemptive mission.

Original title:
Mugen no junin

Actors:
Takuya Kimura, Hana Sugisaki, Sota Fukushi …

Country:
Japan, UK, South Korea

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.5, IMDb – 6.8

Age limit:
16+


Ajin: Demihuman (2017)

Fans of science fiction films should watch a Japanese action movie about immortal and invulnerable ajins. A collision with a truck was supposed to kill student Kei, but instead revealed in the young man the ability to regenerate and immortal essence. The guy gets into the laboratory and becomes a guinea pig for cruel experiments. Another ajin frees the victims of the researchers from the dungeons and offers to take revenge on people.

Original title:
Ajin

Actors:
Takeru Sato, Mamoru Miyano, Go Ayano…

Country:
Japan

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.4, IMDb – 6.3


Rebirth (2016)

The former commando , having left the service, retires to the rural wilderness. The everyday course of life is disrupted by the appearance of former colleagues. Brave warriors, wanting to get even for old grievances, kidnap the hero’s niece. Especially for this film, the lead actor and director developed a special hand-to-hand combat technique using a large number of knives.

Original Title :
Re :
Born
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I am a hero (2015)

An intriguing horror film with action elements that takes the zombie apocalypse theme in Japan. A failed artist sits on his girlfriend’s neck in an unsuccessful attempt to draw a worthwhile manga. Having lost patience, the girlfriend kicks the guy out. Taking his favorite gun, the guy goes in search of a better life, but when zombies appear in the city, he realizes that he must return and save his beloved.

Original Title :
Aiamuahiro

Actors:
Yo Oizumi, Kasumi Arimura, Masami Nagasawa…

Country:
Japan

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.2, IMDb – 6.8


Why don’t you play in hell? (2013)

The wife of the Yakuza leader saved her husband’s life and dealt with assassins. For the destruction of killers, a woman is imprisoned . Before going to places not so remote, the woman asks her husband to take care of her daughter’s film career. The long term of imprisonment is coming to an end, and the girl has not starred in any film. Fortunately, an extravagant indie director appears on the horizon, willing to blindly create a masterpiece with Mitsuko at lightning speed.

Original title:
Jigoku de naze warui

Actors:
Jun Kunimura, Fumi Nikaido, Shinichi Tsutsumi …

Country:
Japan

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.7, IMDb – 7.2


Unforgiven (2013)

An excellent movie from Japan in the action genre is based on the famous western of the same name by Clint Eastwood . A mercenary in the service of the shogunate exterminated many people. When, after the death of his wife, the duties of raising his daughter fell on the man, the widower vowed not to take up arms again. The changed circumstances will force the killer who has tied up to remember his bloody trade again.

Original title:
Yurusarezaru mono

Actors:
Ken Watanabe, Shiori Kutsuna, Jun Kunimura …

Country:
Japan

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.6, IMDb – 6.0

Age limit:
16+


Rurouni Kenshin (film series, 2012 – 2021)

An adaptation of the famous manga by Nobuhiro Watsuki. At the end of the 19th century, a brave warrior wanders around Japan and protects his compatriots from injustice. A lone samurai is in for a variety of adventures, from confronting a gang of opium dealers to preventing a coup d’état. Although the story is entirely fictional, real historical figures occasionally appear in the course of action.

Original title:
Ruroni Kenshin: Meiji kenkaku roman tan

Actors:
Takeru Sato, Yu Aoi, Emi Takei, Go Ayano…

Country:
Japan

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.5, IMDb – 7.5

Age limit:
18+


Ganz (2011)

Two Japanese students die under the wheels of a train , saving a man who fell onto the rails. The guys regain consciousness and, together with strangers, fall into a strange room. A glossy ball named Gantz announces that the previous life is over. Young people receive weapons and ammunition. Now the heroes have to carry out dangerous missions to protect the planet from aliens.

Original title:
Gantz

Actors:
Kazunari Ninomiya, Kanata Hongo, Kenichi Matsuyama…

Country:
Japan

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.3, IMDb – 6.4


Wild Seven (2011)

Top Japanese Action Movies continues with a film based on the manga by Mikiya Mochizuki. Some criminals are too powerful and cunning to fall into the hands of justice. Where the police give up, the all-powerful gang of scumbags on motorcycles gets free rein . The secret squad resorts to the most drastic measures to restore justice.

Original title:
Wairudo 7

Actors:
Kyoko Fukada, Kippei Sina, Jun Kaname …

Country:
Japan

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.0, IMDb – 5.6


13 killers (2010)

The cruel and unprincipled brother of the shogun concentrates more and more power in his hands. The country is in danger of falling into chaos. A wise adviser understands that only the death of a tyrant can save the state from collapse. The villain is under the reliable protection of experienced bodyguards. The adviser hires a famous samurai for the case. The brave warrior, having gathered twelve more fighters, develops a cunning plan.

Original title:
Jûsan-nin no shikaku

Actors:
Koji Yakusho, Takayuki Yamada, Yusuke Iseya …

Country:
Japan, United Kingdom

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.1, IMDb – 7.6

Age limit:
16+


Goemon (2009)

A high place in the list of the best action films in Japan is a tense historical drama . The mediocre tyrant emperor brings the country to poverty, dooming the poor peasants to certain death. A brave ninja robs the rich and helps the poor with money. The ruthless ruler sends troops against the noble robber. The hero, who has long lost his family and mentor, will fight to the last.

Original title:
Goemon

Actors:
Yosuke Eguchi, Takao Osawa, Ryoko Hirosue …

Country:
Japan

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.0, IMDb – 6.7

Age limit:
18+


Fall (2009)

A cowardly student of a private educational institution wants to become a real bully. In pursuit of a dream, a young man dyes his hair and is transferred to a regular public school. Acquaintance with a gang of hooligans at first turns into a fair thrashing for the newcomer, but the bad guys are imbued with sympathy for the young man and invite him to his place. Soon the dream ceases to be so attractive.

Original Title :
Doroppu

Actors:
Hiroki Narimiya, Hiro Mizushima, Yuika Motokariya…

Country:
Japan

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.1, IMDb – 6.5


K-20: Legend of the Mask (2008)

In an alternate reality where the Land of the Rising Sun escaped World War II , Japanese aristocrats have established a brutal caste order in the state. The mysterious avenger, masterfully changing his appearance, inflicts punishing blows on the presumptuous rich. A fantasy film in the genre of alternative history based on the novels of the writer Edogawa Rampo.

Original title:
K-20: Kaijin nijû mensô den

Actors:
Takeshi Kaneshiro, Takako Matsu, Toru Nakamura…

Country:
Japan

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.7, IMDb – 6.6

Age limit:
18+


Crows (trilogy, 2007, 2009, 2014)

To earn the respect of his father – an influential yakuza, a young guy must win leadership in the new school. The educational institution is notorious – the locals called the repulsed punks attending classes “ravens” for cruelty and wild morals. In the first film, the newcomer will have to come together in a struggle for power with the already established local leaders. In the following parts of the trilogy, the conflict unfolds between different schools.

Original title:
Kurôzu zero

Actors:
Shun Oguri, Kyosuke Yabe, Takayuki Yamada …

Country:
Japan

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.6, IMDb – 7.1

Age limit:
16+


Sukiyaki Western Django (2007)

A postmodern remake of the famous spaghetti western “Django” with Japanese flavor and Shakespearean motifs. Rumors of hidden gold lead to conflict between two gangs in a small village. The arrival of a mysterious, skilled shooter with a dark past aggravates the situation even more. Both sides are looking for support from a stranger, but the hero, looking for weaknesses in each of the opponents, plays his own game.

Original title:
Sukiyaki Western Django

Actors:
Hideaki Ito, Masanobu Ando, ​​Koichi Sato …

Country:
Japan

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.0, IMDb – 6.2

Age limit:
16+


Zatoichi (2003)

Under the guise of a blind massage therapist wandering around Japan, in fact, an outstanding martial artist is hiding. Stopping in the next city, the warrior notices how much harm the local gang of bandits has caused people. An expert in martial arts takes out a sword disguised as a cane from its scabbard to deal with the villains. A highly rated samurai action movie based on the novels of Japanese writer Kan Shimozawa.

Original title:
Zatôichi

Actors:
Takeshi Kitano, Tadanobu Asano, Michiyo Ookusu …

Country:
Japan

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.7, IMDb – 7.5

Age limit:
16+


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Jared Lambert/ author of the article

I’ve been writing about movies, TV shows and anime for over 3 years, and you may have seen my reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic.

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