The Samurai

The Samurai

2003, History  -   31 Comments
Ratings: 8.10/10 from 84 users.

The SamuraiThey were the knights of medieval Japan, an elite warrior class that held the reins of power and the fascination of the people for more than 700 years.

Masters of sword and bow, driven by an unforgiving code of ethics, they proved ferocious in combat. They beat back foreign invaders and fought each other for land, status, honor and glory.

The Samurai explores the extraordinary legacy of martial artistry, ceremony, self-discipline and tenacity in battle that reaches to this day.

Modern-day samurai explain the ways of life in the Bushido, while scholars detail the pivotal events in their centuries-long history.

From the heyday of the Heian Period (794-1185) to the inevitable decline that followed the opening of Japan in 1853, this is the definitive study of some of world's most famous fighters.

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31 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Marcus Anton

    Stopped watching not because I find the Japanese a worth whiled subject but because I find Christianities (Any Religion period) to be so offensive. They act as if they and only they can understand the mind of God. Hubris and self righteousness is there name. Over a billion people in the ancient world have been killed because their religion was in conflict with someone else's. At least another billion have died since then, When will we wake up to the awesome destructiveness of religion? Of all the millions of gods, spirits etc humans have believed in somehow you've found the "Real One". Sure buddy, sure. Bring that to my door and I'll show you the business end of my foot. Show up with a weapon and it's going to get bloody real quick.

    1. jakson

      this is the funniest non ironic comment i’ve ever seen thank u

  2. A MFM

    Disappointing to see such a wonderful program as this tainted with the name Koch!

  3. Flojo

    Nice to see that discussion of this documentary was derailed by arguments over whether a samurai can kick a ninja's a**. Also, the weaboo chick who wants everyone to know that she knows more about Japan than they do. Bravo, internet.

  4. TriplePickle

    Overall it's a good documentary, however I did notice a few small inaccuracies. One example is during the tale of the 47 ronin they mention that following the vendetta killing of Kira all 47 ronin were ordered to commit seppuku. In reality only 46 of them were actually ordered to commit suicide while the single remaining ronin was pardoned by the Shogun. He lived until he was roughly 87 years old and following his death he was interred along with the other 46 ronin and their master at Sengaku-ji.

    1. Ingailly28

      pardoned by the Shogun. He lived until he was roughly 87 years old and
      following his death he was interred along with the other 46 ronin and
      their master at Sengaku-ji.

    2. Ingailly28

      my buddy's half-sister makes $89 an hour on the internet. She has been out of work for 6 months bu­t

  5. awful_truth

    An excellent documentary, that gives reference to modern day Japan, from samurai influence. Interestingly, there was no mention of ninja history. After reading some of the previous blogs, regarding which were more lethal, may I state that ninja origins were from the samurai . During realitve peace time, ninja (shadow warrior) were ronin(masterless samurai) who had to make a living. Since their skillset was obvious, they became guns for hire. (assassins) Since they had broken the code of bushido honor, they were disenfranchised from the samurai, and trained themselves in the art of deception, and stealth.

    1. Krosis

      Ninja were not Samurai--they were farmers who grew tired of languishing under the opression of the samurai....

  6. L0LAW0NKA

    But seriously, there could be no modern Japan without the Samurai. I'm sure there was a lot of resentment during the Meiji Era amongst followers of the Samurai- that they could no longer carry swords in public. It's still amazing to know how quickly they caught up to modern times. If there's anything that can outwit Traditionalism, it's Capitalism. Look at Saudi Arabia- they wear jeans and flips flops, and it's okay now.

    Japan is beautiful. I wish they could've added more information about the actual fights instead of just a run-through. It gave general information about the Samurai. 8/10 worth the watch.

  7. L0LAW0NKA

    I wish could marry someone from a Samurai family. That would be so awesome!! Japan has the most intriguing history. I mean, they were in continuos civil war up until the 18th century. And then suddenly it became the leader of advance technology!! Japan is so amazing. I'd kill to go there.

  8. gunk wretch

    ninjas had a totally different approach to battle, they would of killed the samurai before they were even aware the ninja were there. Honour or status didnt matter to ninjas so they might of easily killed a samurai in their sleep.
    On an open field well.. a samurai would certainly do a lot better, but who can really say, its such a subjective question which depends on the individuals level of skill. Im no expert but me thinks ninjas are more in to quickly killing their opponent in one move rather then having a fancy formal and ritualized battle, but clearly samurai had better gear, then again a few sherikans in the face can go a long way to slowing down a samurai.

    1. L0LAW0NKA

      Ohh please. In the begginning, the shinobi were hired spies with limited fighting experience since they operated in secret. Against a samurai sword-fighting expert they didn't have a chance. In time though, the shinobi became hired assassins but they still operated in secrecy. The shinobi schools weren't as popular as the samurai dojos, so their fighting knowledge didn't expand very much. Still, you have to realize that both the Samurai and the Shinobi were warriors bred to attack the government officials, since Japan was in a continuos civil war. The Samurai and the Shinobi rarely fought each other in battle. Assassinations were secretive so they count as battles.

    2. Russell Cobb

      no, the shinobi were created from farmer peasents who didn't like the way the warring Samurai were behaving towards them, with such a higher status. This was all they were. The art of Ninjitsu was created in response towards bushido, taking the spiritual side, and wanting to stay out of fights, and building around it. this isn't naruto. The ninja's weren't warriors, they were just farmer peasents like an activist group. Their reputation only rose to such a grandeur because of legends of walking on water and being able to dissapear.

    3. L0LAW0NKA

      Where did you learn history... manga? The shinobi WERE mercenaries and spies. Read The History of Japan (The Greenwood Histories of the Modern Nations) along with Japan: Its History and Culture (Japan: It's History & Culture). Manga isn't always accurate you know... and the documentaries aren't also very reliable. It's best if you read books. :)

    4. Russell Cobb

      If this is how you defend a perspective then god help you. try reading what I said a little more closely. What i said can be related to my opening statement: "...the shinobi were CREATED from farmer peasants..." did I ever say that they were never to become warriors? no. In fact i defended that to an extent when I talked of ninjutsu vs. bushido. and for the record. just because you read a book on a subject, doesn't mean the sources are fallible. And one little piece of ninja is that their main weapon was the kusarigama which was derived from their intended use as harvesting tools, in this case a short sickle.

    5. Sect

      you're complete misunderstanding of this topic looks at a small slice of history, ignorantly ignoring a huge historic background. Tantamount to this, it's a hidden art that embodies stealth, including that of the history books.

      Thanks for playing though :)

    6. Sushitrash

      As you said ninja has a diverse approach of the combat, they would rather hide and stay in the shadows. That's the main purpose of training one, so in the battlefield they have no chance against a properly trained swordsman. Ninja always avoids one-by-one combat at all costs throughout the history.

  9. Thien Warder

    how about the Hagakure as a Bushido literature ? It is written quite late in feudal japan but it refers to the older days that was the glorious time of the samurai code. The book talk a lot of about acceptance of death and many of the stuff reused to propagate Kamikaze pilots.

  10. a_no_n

    Bushido was a term that was romanticised and then pushed by the Japaneese Emperor Hirohito to inspire the Kamakaze pilots and soldiers to do their duty in WW2, it didn't actually exist in Medieval Japan beyond a basic code of Feudalism. More knights fell on their own swords in matters of honour than Samurai did, if the Samurai ever practiced such a thing at all, which is doubtful in the face of the archaeological evidence.

  11. Guest

    Good doc.

    Was really into martial arts, for many years, years back, keeps a person supple, can still front kick the top of a door frame, but the years are creeping up now (LOL), now a days everybody is in protective gear, no full contact, not so when I was into it. Had fractured ribs, broken big toes, strained thumbs. Lots of bruises. Could not do it now, it is a young persons sport.

    1. Epicurean_Logic

      “Man with one chopstick go hungry. ”

    2. Guest

      "He who knows not and knows not he knows not, he is a fool-shun him.
      He who knows not and knows he knows not, he is simple-teach him. He who knows and knows he knows. He is wise-follow him"

      (Bruce Lee)

    3. a_no_n

      not if he sharpens it first...Or snaps it in half.

    4. Tom Burke

      When making the chopstick the master chopstick maker was asked by his young apprentice: "why don't we eat with knives and forks like the Europeans, Master?" to which he replied "When making these chopsticks, do I use a mallet and chisel?"

  12. StillRV

    Yes the ninja or shinobi existed. As to skill though they are not truly comparable to the samurai. Their tasks and methods were so different. With a sword in straight combat no the ninja could not compete however the ninja was more a master of stealth and unconventional combat.

    1. Eniki520

      K?ga-ry? and Iga-ry? were pretty bad ass. I'm pretty sure they could kill samurai or else Ieyasu Tokugawa wouldn't have employed ninja to guard Edo Castle(the headquarters of the Tokugawa shogunate).
      also in historical records in 1487 when the Shogun Ashikaga Yoshihisa attacked Rokkaku Takayori, the daimyo of southern Omi Province from the Rokkaku clan. Both Iga and Koga ninja fought on the side of Rokkaku, helping to successfully repel the shogun's attack. they wouldn't have been able to do that if they couldn't fight samurai. i think the individual and their training would determine the winner of a fight not their class(samurai or ninja).

    2. StillRV

      Quite true. They were more than formidable. However the simple existence of both classes of fighter points to separation of tasks. In a pitched battle the samurai would likely have reigned supreme, thus their status as the main military arm. The ninja from all accounts, by contrast, were more covert ops or guerrilla tactics. I am sure that selection of battle terrain and other factors contributed to Yakayoris success. In modern terms it is like comparing a mortar gunner to a sniper. one for brute force one for finesse.

    3. Eniki520

      I think the major difference was you had to be born a samurai, but peasant warriors were ninja, hence the ninja villages like koga and iga. Plus it was illegal to own a weapon under the Tokugawa, so ninja not working directly for them were outlaws.

  13. kirastianity

    I love samurais. In my opinion, they're a lot more skilled than the shinobi (which existed, it's not just manga) and more loyal to their tasks too.

  14. Road Hammer

    not just a samurai but history of japan was also so great to study.