If this action/drama does not have you spellbound during the showing, and have you leaving the theatre with a blissful smile on your face – well, then we are probably not from the same planet. Unless of course you just cannot stand the sight of blood and gore, even if it is just fictional.

We are in 19th Century Japan. Zatoichi is a blind wanderer making a living by gambling and giving massages. However, behind this façade he is a master swordsman – lightning fast in drawing his sword from its red scabbard disguised as a cane. A gang is ruling a small town, ruthlessly charging protection money from everyone, and killing those, who does not pay. To help with this, the gang hires the ronin samurai Hattori. Onto the scene steps a couple of beautiful, but dangerous geisha sisters – Okinu and Osei. They are out to avenge their parents’ murder and are helped by Zatoichi and his gambling young friend Shinkichi. Great swordfights, lots of spurting blood and gore and a tap dance ending right out of American musicals – what more can you want?

The Zatoichi legend is known to everybody over 30 in Japan – it was a hit TV-series from 1962 to 1989. Now Director/Actor Takeshi Kitano has made a new version. Although the basic premise is the same, the humor, the character and the production value of this version are quite different from the TV-series.

Takeshi Kitano: “ I wanted a sense of balance to the film. I didn’t want to have just action, but wanted to add some humor to lighten up the film.” Takeshi Kitano entered show business in 1972 as “Beat” Takeshi in the manzai (stand-up comedy). As a stand-up in Japan at that time, learning sword fighting was compulsory. So Kitano had quite a number of ideas, he wanted to try out. These ideas might be one of the reasons, that the fights are so visually striking and different, but Kitano also used traditional techniques: “Kurosawa usually did numerous takes of a well-planned out sword fight, which I think has a tremendous impact. Zatoichi’s rain sequence is my homage to Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai”.

The cinematography is strikingly beautiful (as usual, one is tempted to say), and the touches of humor are done just right – with that tap dance ending putting a grin on your face as you are leaving the theatre.

Don’t miss this one!
Uffe Stegmann
April 14, 2004

Original Title
Takeshi “Beat” Kitano
- Dolls (2002)
- Brother (2000)
- Hana-Bi (1997)
- Sonatine (1993)
- Violent Cop (1989)
Takeshi Kitano
- Battle Royale (2001)
- Brother (2000),
- Taboo (1999)
- Tokyo Eyes (1998)
- Hana-Bi (1997)
- Gonin (1995)
- Johnny Mnemonic (1994)
- Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (1983)
Tadanobu Asano
- Last Life in the Universe (2003)
- Woman of Water (2002)
- Ichi the Killer (2001)
- Taboo (1999)
- Shark Skin Man & Peach Hip Girl (1998)
- Swallowtail Butterfly (1996)
- Maborosi (1996)
DVD Availability
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