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Zatoichi in Desperation (1972)
"Shin Zatôichi monogatari: Oreta tsue" (original title)

Not Rated  |   |  Action, Adventure, Drama  |  21 February 1973 (USA)
7.1
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 488 users  
Reviews: 11 user | 11 critic

Star Shintaro Katsu sits in the director's chair for this psychedelic and unremittingly bleak entry in the Zatoichi series, which is unlike any other in its grind-house grimness. A tale of ... See full summary »

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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 »

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Zatoichi is tricked by a crime gang into killing a man. Realizing his mistake, he sets out to protect the dead man's sister, who is conflicted in accepting his help.

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Zatoichi runs afoul of some evil fugitives, working for a corrupt law official.

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Stars: Shintarô Katsu, Kayo Mikimoto, Kyôsuke Machida
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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.

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Zatoichi arrives in a town where a gambling house is kidnapping its poor, debt-ridden patrons. A rival establishment moves to pay those debts and free the peasants, but this house's ... See full summary »

Director: Satsuo Yamamoto
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Ichi seeks out on a pilgrimage to 81 temples, exploring spirituality to atone for his bloody past. On the way, Ichi stumbles into a village that's being bullied by a violent Yakuza boss and... See full summary »

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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?

Director: Kihachi Okamoto
Stars: Toshirô Mifune, Shintarô Katsu, Ayako Wakao
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Promising to make a delivery for a dying man, the blind swordsman Zatoichi comes across the usual crime gangs but also meets a blind monk who brings into question his use of violence.

Director: Tokuzô Tanaka
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Zatoichi, while fighting off the usual group of gangsters, meets the apprentice of the swordsman who created his blade, who relays bad news about the sword.

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After Zatoichi learns of his sensei's murder he uncovers a horrible conspiracy involving the local government and crime family.

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A samurai with a high skill in chess makes friends with Zatoichi, who finds that things become peculiar in his presence.

Director: Kenji Misumi
Stars: Shintarô Katsu, Mikio Narita, Chizu Hayashi
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Cast

Credited cast:
Shintarô Katsu ...
Kiwako Taichi ...
Nishikigi
Kyoko Yoshizawa ...
Kaede
Yasuhiro Koume ...
Katsuo Nakamura ...
Ushimatsu
Asao Koike ...
Boss Mangoro Kagiya
Jôji Takagi ...
Kamijo
Masumi Harukawa ...
Hama
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Yoshihiko Aoyama ...
Takujiro
Yûtarô Ban
Tamotsu Fujiharu
Jun Fujikawa
...
Kagiya yakuza
Takaji Fukui
Rokku Furukawa
Edit

Storyline

Star Shintaro Katsu sits in the director's chair for this psychedelic and unremittingly bleak entry in the Zatoichi series, which is unlike any other in its grind-house grimness. A tale of innocence corrupted by sadistic, sleazy criminality, the film is propelled by Easy Rider-esque editing and a trippy seventies funk score by Kunihiko Murai. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Release Date:

21 February 1973 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Zatoichi in Desperation  »

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Color:

(Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Connections

Followed by Zatôichi (1989) See more »

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User Reviews

 
How far outside is still in?
4 July 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I have not seen more than five of the classic (and undeniably classy) Zatoichi samurai films, but this is surely the best, cinematographically, so far. It;s hard to believe this was shot in Eastman Color, a kind of poor second to Technicolor (and with far less durability; either the negative was especially preserved, or digital restoration was performed by a true expert; but in any event, this film is absolutely gorgeous to look at.

The story is dark, as others have noted; but the Zatoichi series, like most of the sword-fight genre series films to come out of Japan, is pretty heavy-handed stuff; the Japanese seem to take this sort of thing very seriously. Yet there is no doubt Zatoichi "24" stands out as exceptional, from both the series and its genre. The reason, I think, is its almost total sense of social dislocation; Zatoichi is treated by the other characters as somehow less than human, and his determination to fight at the end somewhat more than human, and so he comes across as something other than human; but the other humans of the film come across as rather poor representatives of the species. I should note that there is very little dialog in this film, particularly at the most dramatic moments, which heightens our sense that we are watching some tragedy from another reality.

The question here is, has director/star Katsu pushed his character to such an extreme that he is no longer representative of his genre, but somehow an independent dramatic entity, a "grade-A film", as might be enjoyed by those who disdain genre-films? well, I suggest this film to such viewers, as the "one chambara (Japanese sword-fight)film to see". But in any event, it is an exceptional, and troubling, cinema experience for anyone.


5 of 9 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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