Itinerant masseur and master swordsman, the blind Zatoichi, is near the village of his teacher, Hikonoichi, so he decides to visit. He learns of Hikonoichi's recent robbery and murder and the imprisonment of his virginal daughter, Osayo, in a brothel. Through friendship with Denroku, a local dice thrower and devoted father, Ichi uncovers an unholy alliance between the governor and the area strongman: among their scams is falsifying tax records to put farmers in debt, then forcing their daughters into prostitution at the boss's brothel. With help from Denroku's daughter, Otsuru, Ichi comforts Osayo until he can provoke showdowns with the villains and their henchmen. Written by
This entry is from the phase where Zatoichi has been completely sanitized into a 100% good guy. Between that an a scene where a tweenage girl breaks into song, this could be a Disney film if were it not for the 10 minutes of screen time where the bad guys die by Zatoichi's sword.
The later films are the ones that create a truly gritty where the Zatoichi character can expand back into the "good guy with a heart of gold but a mean streak" space that made the first Zatoichi films resonate so well. In other words, if you want to see the Zatoichi films not in chronological order but in descending order of greatness, I would save this one for the last batch.
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