Zatoichi tries to unrest the mob rule over a small village all while the gang leader's bodyguard is actually the Yojimbo, secretly taking the gang down from the inside. Will the two heroes realize in time that they are on the same side?
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.
With a price on his head, Ichi seeks tranquillity in a favorite village. Since his last visit, it has fallen prey to Boss Masagoro, the son of a merchant rumored to have stolen gold from the shogunate. The boss has hired Yojimbo as his hard-drinking enforcer, but Yojimbo is both a spy for the shogunate, trying to find the gold, and in love with the merchant's unwilling mistress, Umeno. Ichi hires on as the merchant's masseur and buys Umeno's freedom with his employer's own money. This embarrasses Yojimbo who withdraws from a pact with Ichi to stir up trouble between father and son and their gangs. As the two sides fight, Ichi finds the gold and sets up a final set of confrontations. Written by
I originally got this movie before I saw any other Zatoichi movie, whereas with the Yojimbo movies I know very well. So I decided to sit down and watch at least one of them and I did. By this point I am very glad I did watch the Zatoichi movie I did but it seems like this Yojimbo character is a completely different character to the character you will see in the Kurosawa movies, that and Zatoichi is the hero of the movie.
The plot is that Zatoichi decides to spontaneously go to a village he hasn't been to for three years, This kind of puzzles me - How does he know where he is for point of reference? Once he gets there he finds the town is under attack by 2 gangs, both led by an estranged father and son. They are fighting to find gold which is hidden somewhere. Zatoichi helps the gang lead by the father and a nameless gangster who's Yojimbo to the son and sensei (who's also a secret agent) tries to kill Zatoichi for 200ryo.
The biggest problem is the seemingly false advertising you get. After I watched the Zatoichi movie I thought "So this movie is going to be a crossover of what is at the time 2 of the most beloved samurai movies of all time? Hell yes, I'm in", well - with Yojimbo he seems like less of an intelligent yet slightly cynical bad-ass and more of an assassin who takes contracts for the highest price to buy booze. Even when he's revealed he didn't seem like Yojimbo. Even if it was the same character though, why couldn't he just ask Ichi to go out of town where nobody will see or hear them and say what his intention's are.
So people who enjoyed Yojimbo, if they want to see the character again may seem disappointed (although to be fair, as typical of Toshiro Mifune, his acting is excellent). So if you watch a Zatoichi movie and like that then the question is "Will I get my fill on that?"... Yes. It almost seems to me that the writers wanted to go about and make a Zatoichi movie but thought because there's a bodyguard who also fights for good and they got Mifune they thought "screw it, we got Toshiro Mifune - one of the greatest Japanese actors of all time, lets slap 'Yojimbo' on the title to give the producers more money".
Aside from that I'll go onto the points that didn't disappoint me. It kind of goes without saying but the acting from all involved is great, the father-son struggle is good even if they down-play it a little and the love relationship between Mifune and Umeno is also something I liked. The action is really fun to watch and the cinematography is so much better than the other movies now that it's in colour among other things like the final scene when the wind is blowing during the sword-fight between gangs.
So, at the end, this is just another Zatoichi movie. I am really sorry if you guys sat down and watched this expecting another movie with the character in Yojimbo. I do think that if you can get over the false advertising the movie is actually a decent watch. Is it as good or anywhere near what the title suggests? No. But I will safely say, it does in many respects come close.
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