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.
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 »
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 seemingly altruistic boss is actually laying the groundwork for a ruthless money-grabbing scheme. The sixteenth Zatoichi film is the first from its star's own Katsu Productions, and is one of the series' most daring. Written by
Zatoichi the Outlaw (not really the first time he was an outlaw) is different than its predecessors for a few reasons. First, it's the only Zatoichi film directed by Satsuo Yamamoto, a director noted for his anti-authoritarian films (and indeed, there's a political side to this one as well). It also has a new screen writing staff and it's the first film produced by Shintaro Katsu's own company, Katsu Productions.
Stylistically, this movie is a bit more rough compared to its predecessors. While the pittoresque, colorful images of feudal Japan are still here, the sword-fights are bloodier. Limbs and heads are hacked off, women are raped. Zatoichi makes some truly horrible life choices that profoundly affect the lives of a nearby family, and he's never really sure whom to trust in this movie. The pacing is also unusual, making the film take place across a whole year instead of a few weeks max. Two notable actors also make an appearance; Rentaro Mikuni and Ko Nishimura.
The film's highlight: Zatoichi kills a moth by throwing a toothpick at him, the stabbed moth landing on a bad guy's face.
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