Slant Magazine gives it 4 out of 5 stars and says,
On the whole, Gosha's approach, which might be described as meticulous moderation, works to give the viewer a kind of catch-as-catch-can experience with regard to following the unfolding drama, but not to the degree that it's been abstracted into Suzuki-esque shards, void of classical meaning.JapanCinema.net gives it an A- and praises the "excellent cinematography and composition, effective story-telling and music". SF Gate concludes, "Gosha handles all of these plot strands and the dozen or so main characters effortlessly in an economical 93 minutes. Cool stuff." DVD Talk opens by saying the film "is a simple story told on a small scale, but it packs plenty of drama, suspense and intrigue into just 93 minutes" and closes with this:
Three Outlaw Samurai is an accessible, engaging import that genre fans should enjoy. A potent blend of drama and action moves this character-driven film quickly, while memorable sights and sounds also hold our interest along the way. Criterion's one-disc package is slim, pairing a strong technical presentation with only one minor bonus feature. Any way you slice it, though, the low-priced Three Outlaw Samurai is a true exercise in quality over quantity. Recommended.