Blind swordsman/masseur Ichi (known as Zatoichi, or "Masseur Ichi") angers a local yakuza gang when he defeats several of them in a wrestling match. When he finds that his long lost love Tane is nearby and romantically involved with a tough samurai in the employ of the gang, he remains in the village. Meanwhile, the young heir to the leadership is forced to confront his own fear and weakness when the gang insists he fight Ichi. Written by
Jim Beaver <email@example.com>
Zatoichi the Fugitive is the fourth Zatoichi film and the second one in a row directed by Tokuzo Tanaka. I must say I didn't really like this one. It's kinda forgettable and blends in with the previous film for me even though the storyline is quite different.
The story to this movie was really complicated for me to follow and I quick lost track on who is who. Not only that, but the pace was too slow for my taste this time, so I didn't enjoy following the goings-on here at all. The movie gets significantly better during the final fight scene of Zatoichi vs. a group of nameless thugs, and the final duel with the main villain, and this particular scene looks like it just came out of a Sergio Leone film. Tane (from the first two films) re-appears, and personally I don't really like that the series is still burdened by continuity; I'd rather see Zatoichi meet new people and all.
The score by Akira Ifukube (who also scored Godzilla) is really good and fits in nicely, and the cinematography (done by the same person who shot the previous film, Chishi Makiura) is once again really nice and the shots are a pleasure to look at. I especially like the way the actors look when captured on this particular type of color film, the way their faces are pale and covered in plenty of dark shadows.
Highlight of the film: the villain threatens Zatoichi by cutting a sake bottle in half with his blade. Zatoichi responds by perfectly throwing a dice into the second sake bottle (which some guy is holding), then swings his katana in the air. The guy drops the bottle, which is revealed to be bisected in half, same as the dice that was inside it.
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