Hiroyuki Sanada Movies: Must-Watch Movies from His Career

Fans see a lot of stars, but they might not know who Hiroyuki Sanada is. That’s about to change, though, with the start of Sanada’s great FX show Shogun, which she also produces. As Toranaga Yoshii, Sanada has the height and presence of a seasoned, professional actor.

His delivery is flawless, and he has perfected his mannerisms. But before Shogun, Hiroyuki Sanada was virtually always visible. In American movies, he mostly played tough yakuza bosses or samurai warriors.

Still, in Japan, where he was born and raised, Sanada often played the lead in romantic comedies and plays. When he moved to Hong Kong, he took over the martial arts genre, showing how versatile and likable he was. Including a range of genres is important for anyone who wants to learn more about Sanada’s work. 

He has also been in a lot of TV shows as a guest star, including Lost, Revenge, and Westworld. Let us go through in detail on some of the movies of his.

Hiroyuki Sanada Movies

1. The Twilight Samurai (2002)

The name of the movie might make you think of exciting katana fights, but The Twilight Samurai is a thoughtful character-driven drama that is handled by Sanada’s lead performance. 

The movie is a quiet but clever masterpiece that shows the troubled life of low- ranking Samurai Seibei Iguchi in Japan in the 1800s. It looks at its namesake warrior class through a vulnerable lens. Sword-crossing battles happen in the moviebut they’re not the main point. Each fight builds on days of stress leading up to it.

The Twilight Samurai also looks at the money problems real Samurai might have had, showing that even a fighter from the so-called “elite” warrior class could have had a hard time. 

And even though Sanada works with a lot of great actors, especially the ones who play Iguchi’s family, it’s his hard work that makes the movie so good. When it came out, The Twilight Samurai won a record 12 Japanese Academy Awards, making it Hiroyuki Sanada’s most famous work.

The Twilight Samurai - Trailer

2. Ringu (1998)

It’s strange that one of Sanada’s biggest early breaks is a supernatural horror story; he hasn’t written much in that field since. As the creepily psychic Ryūji Takayama, Sanada helps bring Reiko’s story to life in real life for the first time.

With his part in the atmospheric spine- chilling, Sanada changed horror movies for good. His mix of supernatural horror and the worries of modern technology is so strong that it has led to a huge number of sequels and remakes of Ringu.

Ringu Original Trailer (Hideo Nakata, 1998)

3. John Wick: Chapter 4 (2023)

In one of the better action-packed John Wick movies, Hiroyuki Sanada plays a rare friend of Keanu Reeves’ terrifyingly skilled killer, joining Willem Dafoe in that role.  Even the most critical reviewers couldn’t stay away from John Wick: Chapter 4’s sweet spectacle.

The movie stays tense and interesting thanks to the heroic character work of supporting actors like Sanada.   As the shocking conclusion to John Wick’s story, John Wick: Chapter 4 is without a doubt the best action movie Sanada has been in.

John Wick: Chapter 4 (2023 Movie) Official Trailer – Keanu Reeves, Donnie Yen, Bill Skarsgård

4. ‘Round About Midnight’ (1999)

Japanese people have loved jazz for a long time, long before the famous author Haruki Murakami started writing about it. It seems that a lot of Japanese people feel connected to jazz as a unique art form. Jazz plays a big role in Round About Midnight, or Mayonaka Made as it was first called. Koji is played by Hiroyuki Sanada. 

He is a sure himself jazz trumpet player at a club called Cotton Tail.  He sees two guys in suits attacking a girl (Michelle Reis) as he gets ready to do a show on the club roof with his idol. They run away after he saves her.

Later, she tells him that she saw the two men kill someone, and the movie turns into a chase for the next hour and a half. It’s a mix of comedy, film noir, and romance, which works in this case. 

This is the Sanada that many Japanese fans knew before he became famous in Hollywood. He is a cool guy who can do a lot of different things. He  is one of the best artistsand he’s always willing to learn new things. It’s no surprise that Sanada plays the trumpet all by himself and loves jazz in his spare time.   

5. Sunshine (2007)

Sunshine, a tight science fiction thriller from the always unpredictable Danny Boyle, gives Sanada a chance to break out of his mold by giving him the part of the captain of the Icarus II. Sanada does well in only his second English-language part, competing with big names like Chris Evans and Cillian Murphy in the psychological thriller’s ensemble cast.

Every second of Sunshine makes you feel how important the crew’s goal is, even if the sudden switch to a straight-up slasher movie at the end is a bit of a letdown. This is a list of all 13 of Danny Boyle’s full-length movies, such as Trainspotting, 127 Hours, The Beach, and Yesterday.

🎥 SUNSHINE (2007) | Movie Trailer | Full HD | 1080p

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6. Mr. Holmes (2015) 

Sherlock Holmes is a famous English detective, but  Mr. Holmes,  is shown as an old man who has retired because his fame has long since faded. Tamiki Umezaki, played by Sanada, is one of Holmes’ many skeletons who blames the detective for his father’s absence.

Although Mr. Holmes isn’t a Sherlock riddle, it is an interesting look at a character that is still very different even after five years,  thanks to Ian McKellan and Sanada’s great acting.    

Mr. Holmes Official US Release Trailer #1 (2015) - Ian McKellen Mystery Drama HD

7. Minamata (2020)

According to the movie Minamata, the horrible things that happen are based on the real-life of Johnny Depp’s character, photographer W. Eugene Smith. Smith meets Mitsuo Yamazaki, played by Sanada while writing about a disease spread in his coastal town.   

Even though the movie veers between being an informative biopic and an exciting environmental disaster movie, Minamata is still one of Sanada’s best movies because of its touching acts and uplifting drama.  The sensitive acting and stirring drama in Minamata keep it at the top of Sanada’s career.

MINAMATA Official Trailer (2021) Johnny Depp, Bill Nighy, Drama Movie HD

8. The Last Samurai (2003)

Sanada’s great performance in 2003’s “The Last Samurai” made him a bit of a star as a Samurai since he got into Hollywood. As a skilled swordsman, Sanada gets to learn with Tom Cruise’s character Algren, and has one of the best sword fights in the history of martial arts movies.

People may have said that the movie had a too  positive view of real Samurai, but it’s still a moving story about a fish out of the water with great production values that is made better by Sanada’s performance.

The Last Samurai Official Trailer #1 - (2003) HD

9.‘Succession’ (1992)

Consider this image of Hiroyuki Sanada in a movie about the Yakuza that is very funny. Are you unable to complete it? He used to be a comedy actor before he became an action star.   

You can see this in Keisho Sakazuki, which is translated as Succession in English. It’s about Yoshinari (Sanada), a former stockbroker who becomes a yakuza and has to complete a task to join the group. 

Simply put, Yoshinari needs to let the new oyabun (the yakuza boss) know that he’s been asked to host a ceremony for the new leader because the planned host got sick. Yoshinari quickly learns that the replacement oyabun is not the happiest flower in the field and needs to be careful around him.


Things get even more complicated when the first host feels better all of a sudden. Now Yoshinari has to tell the replacement host the bad news. Yoshinari is played by Sanada as a nervous but charming man with great comic timing. Another famous Japanese actor, Ogata Ken, has joined him. 

Being able to watch Succession without being sent to the HBO drama may be hard, but MUBI and Roku may have it on their schedules from time to time.

10. Bullet Train (2022)

Bullet Train, an action movie set in Sanada’s home country of Japan, would have been incomplete without Sanada. As “The Elder,”  Sanada gets one of the best one-on-one fights in Bullet Train, which shows that he can still fight like a Samurai pro. 

Though reviewers don’t like the movie nearly as much as audiences do, Sanada’s role as a sort of “final boss” helps throw the violent , colorful thriller off track. The difference between critics’ and audiences’ scores for Bullet Train on Rotten Tomatoes is 22% at the time of this writing.

BULLET TRAIN - Official Trailer (HD)

11. Army Of The Dead (2021)

Army of the Dead is one of Zack Snyder’s best movies. It’s a crazy, action-packed caper that blends the best parts of zombie movies and heist thrillers to make an unforgettable experience.

As the smart casino owner Bly Tanaka, played by Hiroyuki Sanada, who fits in well with the rest of the cast, The Rise of the Undead is a good fit for him.

Although Army of the Dead isn’t the smartest action movie ever, it does what it sets out to do well: entertain with bloody, fast-paced action.

Army of the Dead | Official Trailer | Netflix

12: The Railway Man (2013)

A short look at Sanada’s more quiet and thoughtful side is shown in The Railway Man, which isn’t the loudest or most exciting movie he’s made.

Both Sanada and Colin Firth give strong performances in this story of unchecked revenge and final reconciliation, which makes it very heartwarming to watch. It’s not The Railway Man’s uneven pace and lack of flair that keeps it from being a bigger feather in Sanada’s cap.

The Railway Man Official Trailer - Colin Firth, Nicole Kidman, Stellan Skarsgård, Hiroyuki Sanada

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