15. Red Peony Gambler (1968)

Director: Kosaku Yamashita

Sumiko Fuji, famous for her roles in yakuza films alongside actors Ken Takakura and Koji Tsuruta, stars in the eight-part Red Peony Gambler series, which follows the burdened daughter of a local yakuza boss. She grows up to become a wandering gambler under the name Oryu (the Red Peony), and sets off to kill her father’s enemies and the traitors who left her wronged her family.

Back in 1968, Red Peony Gambler, the series' first entry, pushed a female protagonist during the genre’s "chilvalry films" era. With her status as an ass-kicking female in a male-dominated world intact, Fuji's character carries herself with honor.