1985. dir. Akira Kurosawa, starring Tatsuya Nakadai, Akira Terao, Jinpachi Nezu. Japanese with subtitles.
Seen it before? No.
Kurosawa's last major film was an interpretation of Shakespeare's King Lear. It just got re-released on Blu-Ray, and it is spectacular...
Lord Hidetora (Tatsuya Nakadai) is an aging warlord in Tokugawa-era Japan. He announces that he plans to retire, and leave his kingdom to his three helpfully color-coded sons. Taro (Akira Terao, yellow) gets the largest castle, Jiro (Jinpachi Nezu, red) gets the second-largest, and Saburo (Daisuke Ryû, blue) gets the third-largest. Hidetora challenges all three to break an arrow, and they all do it easily; then he challenges them to break a bundle of three, and they can't. Saburo complains that Hidetora's plan makes no sense, and punctuates his point by breaking three arrows over his knee. And he's right.
What follows is a brutal and epic war between the three brothers, the father, and some outsiders. The battle scenes are amazing. The color coding comes in handy because otherwise you wouldn't know what was happening. Hidetora descends into madness, and is followed everywhere by a jester who gets really annoying really fast.
It's long (2h40m), bloody, and has subtitles, but you should see this movie.
Position on the list: 144
My favorite Samurai Shodown character: Genjuro Kibagami. Ukyo Tachibana was pretty awesome too.