My Thoughts on: Three Outlaw Samurai (1964)

As I’ve mentioned once or twice here on the blog, I’m a big fan of Japanese cinema, particularly samurai films. Today, after several previous attempts, I finally got to watch Three Outlaw Samurai, directed by Hideo Gosha, one of the samurai films I have in my collection. The film is, apparently, an origin story for a Japanese television series of the same name.

Three Outlaw Samurai reminds me a little bit of Harakiri, in that part of the story deals with the seeming futility of trying to change the system. See, most of the film revolves around the farmers of a certain area trying to appeal for better living conditions, going so far as to draft a petition for the lord to read when he passes through. However, the magistrate of this area wants it all hushed up and the titular samurai, at various points in the story, end up in the middle of the conflict.


I mentioned futility because it feels like the story is leading up towards a meeting with the lord, where the petition will be presented and things will get better for the farmers. However, when the moment comes, when the samurai presents the farmers with the petition and urges them to run after the lord, they do nothing. And in frustration, the samurai who brought the petition to them throws it down and walks away. My initial reaction was to say “Well what was the point of that?” So much revolved around getting that petition and it ultimately does nothing. But then I considered that maybe the point they were trying to make is that societal change can only occur if the people really want it. After suffering great losses at the magistrate’s hands, the people are too scared to come forward now. In other words, they’re just not ready to make a lasting push for change. Recognizing this, the samurai move on to other adventures.

If you like samurai films, you will enjoy Three Outlaw Samurai. One detail I really like about it is that the one samurai is played by Tetsuro Tamba, who also played “Tiger” Tanaka in You Only Live Twice. I also enjoy watching how the three very different samurai come together and interact. One is rather cynical, he’s seen and done it all; one loves food and is described as a “country bumpkin samurai”; while the third is a rather spoiled samurai who likes his luxuries. They’re so different, and yet they end up meshing very well by the end of the story.

If you’ve seen Three Outlaw Samurai, what do you think about it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and have a great day!

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1 thought on “My Thoughts on: Three Outlaw Samurai (1964)

  1. geelw

    I haven’t seen this in a few years, but it was a favorite for some time (and still is). As with a number of other “hire the tough guy to handle it” flicks, you can borrow or buy someone’s skills, but you can’t do that with their courage. So the “little people” stay little even when given the opportunity to better themselves. I’d gather fear of change plus not wanting to worry about that magistrate wanting to do some post-agreement deal altering like a feudal Darth Vader was a thing, as well… 😀

    Liked by 1 person


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