There may not be a single movie more influential than Seven Samurai, and for good reason. Akira Kurosawa’s epic tale of a group of warriors hired by a village to protect them from bandits is so consequential in the history of global cinema that it’s impossible to fully track all the movies and shows that stem from it.
Often listed among the great action movies of all time, Seven Samurai transcends even that lofty honor through Kurosawa’s care for the people in the story as well as his great technical skill. Even with all the imitators that have followed, it is a singular film. If you have never seen it, run, don’t walk, to Max or the Criterion Channel before pressing on any further here — you owe it to yourself.
There are plenty of movies that have pretty directly followed Seven Samurai’s set-up of “a ragtag group of adventurers become the unlikely heroes for a small community.” But even more have taken pieces of that — especially the idea of seeing the formation of an unlikely team — and ran with it in all sorts of directions.
Zack Snyder’s latest movie, Rebel Moon: Part One — A Child of Fire, was originally going to be a Kurosawa-inspired Star Wars movie (the original Star Wars movies are also very Kurosawa-inspired, but we get what he means). Rebel Moon is very specifically another Seven Samurai-like, as a group of warriors from across the galaxy are recruited to protect a moon colony from an oppressive military.
Whether you’re planning on watching the PG-rated cut released on Netflix this weekend or waiting for the R-rated version due out in 2024, here are seven more “Seven Samurai” stories to follow up Rebel Moon with.
The Magnificent Seven
Where to watch: MGM Plus, free with a library card on Kanopy and Hoopla, free with ads on Tubi, The Roku Channel, and Pluto TV
The star-studded 2016 version is fun, too, but any self-respecting “Seven Samurai movies” list has to start with this direct Hollywood remake of Kurosawa’s film. Seven Samurai was deeply influenced by Hollywood Westerns, so it only makes sense that the relationship would be reciprocal with this remake (which Kurosawa loved so much, he gave director John Sturges a samurai sword). —Pete Volk
Where to watch: Free with ads on Tubi, Vudu, Crackle, and Plex
Let me get one thing out of the way: There are way more than seven swords in this movie. Tsui Hark’s wuxia spin on the Seven Samurai-like is adapted from a book, but the influence of Kurosawa’s masterpiece is clear. A balletic wuxia with graphic violence from one of Hong Kong’s great underrated directors, if you ever wished the seven samurai had magic swords (and don’t mind if the story is a bit hard to follow), this one is for you. —PV
Where to watch: Crunchyroll or for digital purchase
If you’ve ever wondered what Seven Samurai would be like with flying warships and cyborg mecha clashing swords in an anachronistic steampunk version of Japan, look no further than Samurai 7. The 26-episode series follows much of the same format as Kurosawa’s original film, but with the stylish flair of an anime set in the future. —Toussaint Egan
The Dirty Dozen
Where to watch: Prime Video, MGM Plus, or for digital rental/purchase
We’re starting to stretch the definition here, but really any “getting the team together” movie counts as a Seven Samurai-like. In this predecessor to The Suicide Squad, twelve convicts with outsized personalities are trained as soldiers for a suicide mission. —PV
A Bug’s Life
Where to watch: Disney Plus, or for digital rental/purchase
Pixar’s classic animated comedy has got to be one of the most out there Seven Samurai-like takes, following a colony of ants who are besieged by a gang of villainous grasshoppers who steal their food. Unable to bear this treatment any longer, a misfit ant embarks on a journey to recruit a band of “great warriors” to fight back. What he finds, instead, is a troupe of circus bugs who eventually inspire the colony to rise up and fight for themselves. —TE
Where to watch: Digital rental/purchase
You may balk at Galaxy Quest as a sci-fi comedy spin on the formula, but it really is: A group of “warriors” are recruited by a group of aliens to save them from annihilation. Now, these “warriors” are actually actors, but that won’t stop them from saving the day. —PV
Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior
Where to watch: Digital rental/purchase
This one may not immediately seem like a Seven Samurai movie, but think about it: Max Rockatansky arrives in a town that needs protecting from the bandits outside its walls, and he’s gonna need help to do it. That’s a by-the-book Seven Samurai if we’ve ever heard of one. Also, at the end of the day, what is Max if not a post-apocalyptic ronin? —Austen Goslin