Zatoichi's Conspiracy (1973) Poster

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you can try, but you can never go home
Tom (bighouseaz)1 May 2005
After a 23 year absence, Zatoichi returns to his home town to find that few remember him. But in the end the village residents will have much to remember him by.

Of course Zatoichi is in a sentimental mood. There is a funny scene where Zato mistakenly thinks that the town has set up a big banquet in his honor and he frets over how to greet his guests and thank them. There is a touching scene where Zato comes across a Jizo (Buddha) statue along side a road where he used to play as a child. Jizo is missing his stone head, so Zatoichi gets on hands and knees to find the missing head. In the end he finds the head and replaces it on Jizo's shoulders. Zato visits the grave of his 'aunti' who breast fed him and offers sake (taking a nip himself :) ).

The second half of the film is fast paced and has an interesting story. It's a story of greed and the story is being sown by Zatoichi's childhood friend, who has returned to the village at the same time as Zatoichi. Their confrontation is predictable, but Zatoichi takes out a host of yakuza to eventually confront his childhood friend. Overall, it's a compelling story and has a lot of good action.

So this film marks the 25th film in a period of 12 years. It's interesting that the series pauses at this point. The next film (and last) will be released in 1989. I would rank Zatoichi Conspiracy higher than several of the earlier films in the series, but the Japanese public must have had enough by this point. Good work Katsu!
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Another solid entry in the series
gkbazalo23 August 2004
Zatoichi's Conspiracy has our hero returning to his hometown and making the acquaintance of his "sister", a young orphan raised by the same old woman who raised Zatoichi. The bad guy is an official who also grew up in the same village and was a childhood friend of Zatoichi. He appears to be befriending the village by paying off their tax debt, but lays claim to the village quarry, which serves as the only source of income besides farming. A high point of this film is the appearance of Takashi Shimura, the hero of many Kurosawa films including Seven Samurai, as the guardian of Zatoichi's new-found sister. The ending is a little bit of a copout as Zatoichi struggles to decide whether he can bring himself to kill his old friend. A solid entertaining entry to the series.
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The series is back to the old form
MartinHafer6 June 2009
Warning: Spoilers
In the previous Zatoichi film, "Shin Zatôichi monogatari: Oreta tsue" (ZATOICHI IN DESPERATION or ZATOICHI 24), the film abounded with disgusting scenes and plot elements. It certainly was the seediest and most unpleasant of the original 25 Zatoichi films. Fortunately, here in the final film before the series went exclusively to television (until Shintaro Katsu came out of retirement for the 26th Zatoichi film, the film makers decided to make the film less nihilistic and bleak. The only real similarity between 24 and 25 was the blood--there is plenty of realistic looking blood and severed limbs in both. But because the plot isn't quite so dark, the film is like the series coming back to the old formula. Now this isn't all good, because by now the films had become VERY formulaic, but at least it was more enjoyable and offered what fans of the franchise had long enjoyed.

At the beginning of this film, Zatoichi is back to where he grew up though no one seems to remember him. His memories, however, are amazingly clear. In fact, when Shenbei (Zatoichi's childhood playmate) meets up with Ichi, he either doesn't remember him at all or pretends not to--while Ichi can vividly recall their youth. Sadly, however, in addition to Shenbei not recognizing Ichi as a friend, he also has changed a lot for the worse. Now instead of a humble peasant, he's a magistrate who abuses his power to both starve the peasants and overwork them in dangerous quarries he just stole from the local boss. As usual, Ichi puts up with a lot of abuse from these guys until he ultimately kicks butt to restore justice.

This pattern is pretty common to almost all Zatoichi films but there were a few differences--such as how Shenbei finally gets his comeuppance as well as the presence of a gang of lowlife hippie-types who seem to randomly appear and do nasty things for no particular reason.

While this film certainly is NOT a standout film in the series, it is very watchable and is a return to the older and less vile Zatoichi film of the past.
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Zatoichi's Conspiracy (1973)
mevmijaumau31 May 2017
After two and a half years, I've finally been able to complete the original Zatoichi saga! Zatoichi's Conspiracy (he doesn't actually partake in the conspiracy here), directed by Kimiyoshi Yasuda, is the final movie of the original Zatoichi theatrical run (but not the final Zatoichi film with Shintaro Katsu). His adventures continued in the form of a television series, which I'm not interested in so I'm going to skip on that.

The plot here is, as you'd expect, similar to other entries. Zatoichi goes to a town and fights criminals. In this film, however, the place he visits is his home town and we get to find out a bit or two about his past. It's one of the more elegant and melancholic films of the series, partly because the music returns to the orchestral form after the funky experimentations in the earlier few films. One interesting thing is that, despite saying he hasn't been in his home town for 20 years, he already visited his home town and the old lady who raised him back in the third movie, so either his memory is fuzzy or the Zatoichi series aren't meant to be too consistent in canon, and are more like tall tales whose details are lost in re-telling (to borrow the theory from The Jidai-Geki Knights).

Also, this is one of my favorites of the saga. The fights are very well done and the final ten minutes are very exciting, for sure one of the best Zatoichi finales. The coffee palette color scheme that Kimiyoshi Yasuda's Zatoichi films are known for is improved by most of the scenes here being shrouded in darkness, and the story is pretty interesting to follow. The fact that the enemies here aren't just the yakuza thugs but pretty much the establishment itself also makes it stand out. However, some of the characters here just aren't necessary; the obligatory black- clad mystery ronin (who barely even appears here), and a small band of thugs whom the film could've done without.

Highlight of the film: the final battle, in this case.
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