4 Best Movies to Watch by Yosuke Eguchi

Staff & contributors
You don't need to be familiar with the rest of the Rurouni Kenshin live-action movie series—or the original manga and anime, for that matter—to appreciate The Beginning as a powerful period drama in its own right. This is a story that courses its historical context about a tumultuous time in Japan's past through a stoic, fearsome protagonist who can't seem to escape the violence that's become his only function. And even more impressively, as a prequel, the film keeps a heavy sense of dread about it, even if you're sure about which characters are meant to survive in order to appear in the previous films. It's the mark of any great tragedy that even the things that are destined can still feel so painful.

Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama, Romance

Actor: Eiki Narita, Eita Okuno, Emi Takei, Hoshi Ishida, Issey Takahashi, Kasumi Arimura, Kazuki Kitamura, Kinari Hirano, Makiko Watanabe, Mansaku Ikeuchi, Masanobu Ando, Masataka Kubota, Mayu Hotta, Nijiro Murakami, Shima Onishi, Soko Wada, Takahiro Fujimoto, Takeru Satoh, Towa Araki, Wataru Ichinose, Yosuke Eguchi

Director: Keishi Otomo

Rating: R

Borrowing heavily from yakuza films of the past, The Blood of Wolves feels like a movie plucked straight out of the 1970s and given a slick coat of 2010s neo-noir shine. The film never tries to reinvent the recipe it's working with, but it doesn't have to when its violence is still satisfyingly brutal, its plot endlessly twisty, and its morality grey. At the center is a brash and sleazy performance from the great Koji Yakusho, whom you can never really clock as being in control or out of his depth. It might only hold special value for hardcore fans of the genre, but it provides enough solid thrills for the more casual viewer.

Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller

Actor: Eiji Takigawa, Gorō Ibuki, Hajime Inoue, Issei Okihara, Joey Iwanaga, Junko Abe, Katsuya, Ken'ichi Yajima, Kenichi Takito, Kenichi Takitoh, Kōji Yakusho, Kyūsaku Shimada, Marie Machida, Megumi, Pierre Taki, Renji Ishibashi, Ryuji Sainei, Shidô Nakamura, Shun Nakayama, Takahiro Kuroishi, Takaki Uda, Taketo Tanaka, Takuma Otoo, Taro Suruga, Tomorowo Taguchi, Tomoya Nakamura, Tori Matsuzaka, Yôko Maki, Yosuke Eguchi, Yutaka Takenouchi

Director: Kazuya Shiraishi

There are plenty of submarine thrillers that work in the present, but when it comes to the genre, the most memorable stories are set during the Cold War, where major superpowers made as much advances in tech as they can without bringing war to the world. The Silent Service depicts an alternate history, where, tired of both the U.S. and Japan, making underhanded moves against each other in their supposed alliance, one submarine captain commits mutiny to declare his nuclear submarine as one nation. Amazon Prime has expanded the film into an eight episode show, which gives much more detail to the sub battles, tech, and underwater escapades. However, because of focusing too much on the step-by-step events, The Silent Service loses sight of the thrilling and terrifying potential of having one crew being in control of nuclear weapons in an undetectable, high-tech submarine that can go anywhere.

Genre: Drama, War, War & Politics

Actor: Aleks Paunovic, Aoi Nakamura, Asami Mizukawa, Aya Ueto, Hiroshi Tamaki, Isao Hashizume, Kou Maehara, Koudai Matsuoka, Takao Osawa, Takashi Sasano, Tao Okamoto, Tomoya Nakamura, Toru Tezuka, Yoshi Sakou, Yosuke Eguchi, Yui Natsukawa, Yusuke Santamaria

Director: Kohei Yoshino