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 »
Ichi is staying at an inn when a woman dies. Her dying wish is that Ichi take her son to his father, an artist living in a nearby town. After arriving in the town, Ichi finds out that the father has been forced by a local boss to create illegal pornography to pay off his gambling debts. Ichi makes it his mission to save tha man and reunite the family, even though it brings him into conflict with a samurai he sort of befriended on his way to the town Written by
Scott Hamilton <stomptokyo.com>
Director Kenji Misumi returns to the series once more to direct Zatoichi Challenged, the 17th installment of the saga. Coming off from Zatoichi the Outlaw, one of the fresher entries, you might be surprised to find out that this movie is back to the old generic roots without much, if any, innovation. The plot is lifted from Fight! Zatoichi! Fight! (also directed by Misumi), except the boy that Zatoichi takes care of isn't a toddler in this case, and overall the film feels very plain, without anything new thrown onto the table.
There's a peculiar sub-plot with the baddies smuggling some dining plates with pornographic drawings on them (inspiring the excellent Criterion artwork), but it doesn't live up to the potential and in fact sounds more like a plot for a Hanzo the Razor film. The kid's acting is pretty bad, and the movie starts off like a musical, with one song after another. Luckily, it quickly abandons this idea. There's also another mystery ronin, this time a bad guy, unlike the altruistic philosopher from the previous film. Here, the movie ends with a duel between him and Zatoichi, and what makes it interesting is that the ronin's fate is radically different from the other bad guys' from the franchise.
The only thing #17 improves as opposed to #16 is the soundtrack. Sei Ikeno's music in #16 is too intrusive and melodramatic (but I forgive him, for he composed one of the best movie soundtracks ever for 1968's Affair in the Snow), while the soundtrack to #17 almost feels like it belongs in a spaghetti western.
Highlight of the film: Zatoichi slices off some guy's eyebrows.
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