In the 1840s, Ichi, blind masseur and quick-draw swordsman, travels to the village of Itakura to pay his respects at the grave of Kichizo, a man he killed two years' ago. The villages in the area, after several years of famine, have struggled to raise 1,000 ryo in taxes they owe. The money is stolen while in transit to the governor. Ichi is accused as is Boss Chuji, a samurai Ichi respects. Ichi sets out to find the money and clear his own and Chuji's names. Along the way, he must face Kichizo's sister, some of Chuji's own gang, a corrupt governor, and his henchmen. Loyalties shift even as Ichi's moral compass stays true. Written by
Ichi buffs will be interested to know that Jushiro is played this film by Katsu's real-life brother, Tomisaburo Wakayama, who would later star in the Lone Wolf and Cub series of films (produced by Katsu). See more »
I think this stunning film ranks among the great action films of all time but could be hung as stills in any art museum. Hokusai & Hiroshige influences abound.
Yet best of all is the unforgettable character Zatoichi himself. Shintaro Katsu created an everyman/superhero who had no equal, at least in western culture. A squat, homely, bandy-legged self-deprecating blind man full of humor & humility & an abundance of spirituality. And could he make that sword dance.
These movies have no equal. Each one is as perfectly made as any movie can be. I used to go see them when they first appeared in the theaters of San Francisco & Los Angeles Japanese neighborhoods. I still love them every bit as much now.
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