The Last Samurai (1974) aka Okami yo rakujitsu o kire (The five wolves)
*Not to be confused with the Tom Cruise movie of the same name
Directed by Kenji Misumi
The film follows the story of Sugi Toranosuke, a ronin, who returns to his home town of Edo many years after his attempted suicide as a sickly child. Rescued and adopted by a master swordsman, he has grown into a master swordsman and a very kind gentleman. The time is around 1868 the year that the nails were finally put into the coffin containing the feudal system that nurtured and sustained the samurai. Sugi is confused and unsure about what is happening but his teacher wants him out of the chaos of the multiple power struggles between the various clans.
Shinsengumi (1969) aka Band of Assassins
Directed by Tadashi Sawashima
The true story of the end of the Shogunate, the tragedy of the Shinsengumi is one of the best loved stories of Japanese history and has been adapted many times on stage, screen, television, and anime. This film, starring Toshiro Mifune with an all-star cast, stands out as one of the definitive adaptations of this classic tale.
Red Lion (1969) aka Akage
Directed by Kihachi Okamoto
Gonzo (Toshiro Mifune), a member of the Imperial Restoration Force, is being asked by the emperor to deliver official news to his home village of a New World Order. Wanting to pose as a military officer, he dons the Red Lion Mane of Office. Upon his return, his attempt to tell the village about a brand-new tax cut is quashed when the townfolk mistakenly assumes that he is there to rescue them from corrupt government officials. He learns that an evil magistrate has been swindling them for years. Now, he has to help the village, ward off Shogunate fanatics, along with the fact that he can't read his own proclamations.
When the Last Sword is Drawn (2003) aka Mibu Gishi Den (The Wolves of Mibu)
Directed by Yōjirō Takita
The film tells the story of two Shinsengumi samurai. One of them is Saitō Hajime (Kōichi Satō), a heartless killer and the other is Yoshimura Kanichiro (Kiichi Nakai), who appears to be a money-grubbing and emotional swordsman from the northern area known as Nambu Morioka. The main storyline is set during the fall of the Tokugawa shogunate, but it is told in a series of flashbacks as two characters reminisce. The themes include conflicting loyalty to the clan, lord, and family.