When most people think about "badass samurai", the image that pops into their heads isn't from some long-lost text about ancient warlords or heroic daimyo - it's the image of an unshaven Toshiro Mifune cutting down hordes of inferior wannabe poser swordsmen and littering the Japanese countryside with their severed limbs and pressurized arterial blood spray. The star of over 170 films, the majority of which feature him scowling, carrying a katana and lopping off more arms than a piece of Industrial Revolution-era machinery, Toshiro is remembered by many as one of the biggest badasses in the history of film. He epitomized the badass "wandering ronin" lone warrior archetype and did for samurai movies what Clint Eastwood did for Westerns - which is make them totally fucking awesome.
All you need is one look at Toshiro Mifune to know that he's fucking serious. He's coarse, he's gruff, he's confident, he doesn't take any fucking shit from anyone and he's got the sort of commanding presence that forces you to respect the fact that he could kick your ass fifteen ways from Thursday afternooon and not even break a sweat. He comes into town, he fucks up anybody who looks at him funny, he gets it on with some random babe, and then he walks off into the sunset in search of adventure and more asses that need to be kicked by him. He hardly says anything, but any time he talks it sounds like he's fucking yelling at you. He's probably the only person on the planet who could make you piss your pants by telling you a story about puppy dogs and rainbows. He's intimidating, he's physically imposing, and he had the sort of badass ultra-determined walk that makes people get the fuck out of his way. Just check out this clip from Sword of Doom where Mifune gets jumped by like eight hundred samurai ready to kill him. The only emotion he displays is anger, and all they succeed at doing is pissing him off and getting their fucking faces chopped off.
It's not only badass how he fucking annihilated an entire army of ronin warriors, but I think it says something about Mifune's character that the one guy who begged to be killed was the only guy whose life was spared. It's like he was saying, "fuck you buddy, I'll kill whoever the shit I want to and there's not a damn thing you can do about it".
Toshiro Mifune's fighting style represents the ultimate duality of badassery: He's brutally efficient, yet at the same time stunningly graceful. There is no wasted motion in his sword strokes as he attacks with lighting-quick strikes, but at times it looks like he's just wildly hacking at anything that moves. It takes real badass powers to put on a dazzling display of technically-proficient weapon skill while simultaneously looking like a fucking berserker wild man who would like nothing better than to stab you in the head, kick your wife in the stomach and then punch your corpse. His blows are ruthless and powerful, and he rarely requires more than one or two strikes to bring down any foe. He's also completely fearless and has nothing but comtempt for those who display any sort of weakness or cowardice. If you try to throw down your weapon and run from him, you're only going to die with a sword in your back like a fucking chump. There's no escape from his wrath.
I'll let the following compilation clip speak for itself, since it does a far better job than anything I could put into words. Suffice to say, Toshiro Mifune is a serious fucking badass. He was critically acclaimed for his work with the legendary Akira Kurosawa in timeless films such as The Seven Samurai and Yojimbo, he played some of the toughest characters in the history of cinema, and he was the only man badass enough to believably portray the legendary Miyamoto Musashi.