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March 9, 2005

{     The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi     }    

zatoichi.jpg The Zatoichi series is the longest running and most successful series in Japanese history. For this latest installment writer/director Takeshi Kitano enters the role of the blind nomad (orignally played by Shintaro Katsuwho) and enters (in his usual low-key fashion) a remote village controlled by warring gangs. Disguised as a masseur Zatoichi conceals his lightning-swift skills with a sword until absolutely necessary...which in this case is in the opening of the film. When the blind swordsman�s path collides with henchmen from the mob who governs the town, the stage is set for a bloody showdown. Just don�t blink...Zatoichi�s single-stroke moves and the hyper-quick fight scenes might be over before you know it. In the process Zatoichi encounters two geishas who have a hidden agenda of their own and learns of a ronin who is hired to hunt him down. There are well over a dozen Zatoichi films that are equally entertaining, so you're gonna want to go ahead and get started on viewing these real soon. This is like that first hit of will only whet your appitite for the other Zatoichi films. As an added bonus this is sold with the gangland thriller Sonatine. - Written by Jay, read more of his reviews at

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I love this movie!

Takeshi Kitano is a genius, this film has some incredible characters (the retarted kid that lives next door to the old lady is my fave) and a sense of rhythm that seems to run through every frame and fight scene.

I've got to drop some science here though- I'm pretty sure this is the only Zatoichi film that Takeshi Kitano has starred in/directed.
The vast majority of the Zatoichi feature films starred Shintaro Katsu- he made 26 features, hundreds of TV episodes and even directed a Zatoichi film. While these are all worth checking out, they are very different from this much more recent take on the Blind Swordsman.
Kitano plays some brilliant homage to the classic Zatoichi films in his version, but it's done with tongue firmly in cheek. You get a healthy dose of humor with your badass swordsmanship here, and the end result is truly something amazing.

If you want to get down and dirty with the old school Zatoichi films, I have to reccomend #20, Zatoichi Meets Yojimbo. This volume brings togther Katsu's Blind Swordsman and the legendary Toshiro Mifune as Yojimbo, another character with a rich history in Japanese samurai film and TV (Mifune played him in the Kurosawa film).

Posted by: Adam at March 9, 2005 7:52 AM

I had the absolute pleasure of seeing this at one of my local theatres and had a total blast. If the CGI blood wasn't in there, it'd be missed.

Posted by: Al aka El Negro Magnifico at March 22, 2005 9:41 PM
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