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The Tale of Zatoichi (1962)
"Zatôichi monogatari" (original title)

7.7
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 2,803 users  
Reviews: 19 user | 31 critic

The adventures of a blind, gambling masseur who also happens to be a master swordsman.

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(screenplay), (short story)
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Title: The Tale of Zatoichi (1962)

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

After being wounded in a fight, Zatoichi is nursed to health by a young woman and her father. Now indebted to the family, he works to protect their ferry business from local thugs.

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Zatoichi is mistaken for a thief. To clear his name he must find and defeat the real villain.

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Action | Drama | Adventure
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Zatoichi, while fighting off the usual group of gangsters, meets the apprentice of the swordsman who created his blade, who relays bad news about the sword.

Director: Kimiyoshi Yasuda
Stars: Shintarô Katsu, Shiho Fujimura, Yoshihiko Aoyama
Action | Adventure | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

After Zatoichi learns of his sensei's murder he uncovers a horrible conspiracy involving the local government and crime family.

Director: Akira Inoue
Stars: Shintarô Katsu, Norihei Miki, Mikiko Tsubouchi
Action | Adventure | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

The blind masseur and swordsman, Zatoichi, searches for proof an imprisoned man's innocence.

Director: Kazuo Mori
Stars: Shintarô Katsu, Kanbi Fujiyama, Eiko Taki
Drama | Adventure | Action
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

After an artist is threatened by the yakuza into creating valuable but highly illegal pornography, the law aims to execute him. Zatoichi, having been honor bound to protect the man and his family, must now run against the law.

Director: Kenji Misumi
Stars: Shintarô Katsu, Jûshirô Konoe, Miwa Takada
Drama | Action | Adventure
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

Zatoichi is tricked by a crime gang into killing a man. Realizing his mistake, he sets out to protect the dead man's sister, who is conflicted in accepting his help.

Director: Kenji Misumi
Stars: Shintarô Katsu, Yoshiko Mita, Makoto Satô
Action | Adventure | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Zatoichi arrives in a town where a gambling house is kidnapping its poor, debt-ridden patrons. A rival establishment moves to pay those debts and free the peasants, but this house's ... See full summary »

Director: Satsuo Yamamoto
Stars: Shintarô Katsu, Rentarô Mikuni, Kô Nishimura
Drama | Adventure | Action
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

Cowritten by star Shintaro Katsu, this adventure pits Zatoichi against one of his most diabolical foes: a blind yakuza boss whose reign of terror and exploitation has made him nearly mythic... See full summary »

Director: Kenji Misumi
Stars: Shintarô Katsu, Reiko Ôhara, Pîtâ
Action | Adventure | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Star Shintaro Katsu sits in the director's chair for this psychedelic and unremittingly bleak entry in the Zatoichi series, which is unlike any other in its grind-house grimness. A tale of ... See full summary »

Director: Shintarô Katsu
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Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Promising to make a delivery for a dying man, the blind swordsman Zatoichi comes across the usual crime gangs but also meets a blind monk who brings into question his use of violence.

Director: Tokuzô Tanaka
Stars: Shintarô Katsu, Shigeru Amachi, Jun Hamamura
Drama | Action | Adventure
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Two of Japan and China's greatest heroic swordsman find themselves caught in a plot to protect a young child. But will national distrust and simple misunderstanding keep the two kindred spirits apart?

Director: Kimiyoshi Yasuda
Stars: Shintarô Katsu, Yu Wang, Watako Hamaki
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Shintarô Katsu ...
Zatôichi / Blind Man Ichi / Masseur Ichi
Masayo Banri ...
Tane / Tatekichi's sister / Seisuke's ex-lover
Ryûzô Shimada ...
Shigezô of Sasagawa / Sasagawa yakuza boss
Hajime Mitamura ...
Hanji of Matsugishi
Shigeru Amachi ...
Hirate, Miki
Chitose Maki ...
Yoshi / Hanji's wife
Ikuko Môri ...
Yutaka / Shigezô's wife
Michirô Minami ...
Tatekichi / Tane's brother / Saki's lover / Iioka yakuza member
Eijirô Yanagi ...
Sukegorô of Iioka / Iioka yakuza boss
Toshio Chiba ...
Masakichi / Iioka yakuza member (as Toshirô Chiba)
Manabu Morita ...
Seisuke / Tane's ex-lover / Iioka yakuza member
Yoichi Funaki ...
Yogorô / Sasagawa yakuza member
Kinya Ichikawa ...
Mokichi / Sasagawa yakuza member
Eigorô Onoe ...
Rihei / Sasagawa yakuza member
Yoshito Yamaji ...
Yahei / Father of Tane and Tatekichi
Edit

Storyline

An impoverished blind masseur becomes a mercenary swordsman, to gain basic respect. The first of novelist Kan Shimozawa's Zatoichi series: 26 films, a TV series and a play, all but two starring controversial singer/producer/director Shintaro Katsu. First of six Zatoichi films directed by Kenji Misumi. The shrewd Zatoichi targets a yakuza-controlled village, because war with a neighboring town's smaller gang is brewing. The broke ex-masseur "Ichi" immediately wins big, by taking advantage of local bakuto's cheating, after they scoff at his asking to join a dice game. The larger horde, who have been given carte blanche by the local governor, summoned Zatoichi. Zatoichi hates the fact that he's become an outlaw, so he strikes up a friendship with the other gang's honorable hired samurai, who has TB. Written by David Stevens

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

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Language:

Release Date:

18 April 1962 (Japan)  »

Also Known As:

The Tale of Zatoichi  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Goofs

When Hirate and Zatoichi are about to fight near the end, the horn of a modern ship can be heard in the background. See more »

Quotes

Zatôichi: [after asking Zatoichi what she would do with having so much children] Just don't raise them to be gangsters.
Tane: I won't... But why do you say that?
Zatôichi: Because to be a gangster is a foolish way to live.
Tane: Then why don't you live a decent life?
Zatôichi: It's like being stuck in a bog; it's not easy to pull yourself you once you've fallen in.
See more »

Connections

Followed by Zatoichi and the Chess Expert (1965) See more »

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User Reviews

 
A Blind Samurai Star is Born
2 March 2009 | by (Salzburg, Austria) – See all my reviews

"Zatôichi Monogatari" aka. "The Tale of Zatoichi" (1962) is the fantastic start to the longest and most famous series of Samurai films, the wonderful "Zatôichi" series about the eponymous blind swordsman, gambler and masseur impersonated by the great Shintarô Katsu. Katsu is one of my personal favorite actors, and I am equally an admirer of the brilliant director he often worked with, the great Kenji Misumi. This first film in the series, as well as several more to come, was directed by Misumi, in my opinion one of the greatest Japanese directors of all-time. My personal favorite films by Misumi will always be the brilliant "Kozure Okami" (aka. "Lone Wolf And Cub") films (1972-1974) starring Shintaro Katsu's equally great brother Tomisaburo Wakayama (four out of the six films were directed by Misumi), as well as the outrageous Samurai-Exploitation classic "Hanzo The Razor - Sword Of Justice" (OT: "Goyôkiba") starring Katsu himself. It was the "Zatôichi" films, however, that made Misumi a known director and brought Katsu to stardom, and the series has long obtained an enormous cult-status. In total, Katsu played the role of Zatoichi in 26 films as well as in a 100-episode TV-series that ran between 1974 and 1979. Misumi directed six of the films, as well as many episodes of the series.

The reasons why the Zatôichi franchise enjoys such an enormous cult-status are numerous, but I will stick to the most important ones. The eponymous hero, Zatôichi must be the most likable character ever in cinema to work as a hired sword. Zatôichi, a blind masseur, has obtained his sword skills because he was tired of being looked down upon by others, as usual for blind people in Feudal Japan. Due to his excellent sword-skills, he makes a good living as a hired swordsman. His senses of smell and hearing are as excellent as his swordsmanship, which makes him one of the most powerful swordsmen. Even so, Zatôichi is a kind, gentle and humorous man by nature, who will rather solve problems otherwise than having to kill someone. Shintaro Katsu is brilliant in the role of his life, and I cannot imagine for anyone else to fit the role like Katsu did. Cult-filmmaker Takeshi Kitano (of whom I am a great fan) took a new turn on the role in 2003 - Katsu had passed away in 1997 - and did so greatly. Yet, to me, the only true Zatoichi will always be Shintaro Katsu. This first film in the series is one of only two that were filmed in black and white, and it already epitomizes what makes the brilliance of the series. "Zatôichi Monogatari" mixes Smurai Action with Comedy, Drama and philosophical elements. The film begins with the crafty Zatôichi, who tricks a bunch of fellow gamblers into underestimating him... The film marks the beginning to a great and highly successful series that may not be missed by any lover of Japanese cinema. I had seen several other "Zatôichi" films with Katsu, as well as the 2003 film with (and by) Kitano before seeing this one. The action is great in this first film, but it is the plot that outweighs the fighting by far. Overall, "Zatôichi Monogatari" is a great little piece of cult-cinema and everybody even remotely interested in Japanese films must see it.


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