Nearing the village of his sensei, Zatoichi decides to pay the teacher a visit, only to learn that he has been murdered and his daughter forced into prostitution. Ichi's investigation into ... See full summary »



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Zatoichi returns to his home village for the first time in over ten years to find much has changed and that corruption abounds.

Director: Kimiyoshi Yasuda
Stars: Shintarô Katsu, Yukiyo Toake, Eiji Okada
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On the road, Zatoichi meets a dying pregnant woman and delivers the child moments before she passes. Honor bound, he sets out to find the next-of-kin who he discovers have their own problems.

Director: Kazuo Mori
Stars: Shintarô Katsu, Rentarô Mikuni, Hisaya Morishige
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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
Drama | Action | Adventure
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Two of Japan and China's greatest heroic swordsman find themselves caught in a plot to protect a young child. But will national distrust and simple misunderstanding keep the two kindred spirits apart?

Director: Kimiyoshi Yasuda
Stars: Shintarô Katsu, Yu Wang, Watako Hamaki
Action | Adventure | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Zatoichi promises to deliver a maiden safely home but finds two dangerous gangs have a mysterious interest in the young girl.

Director: Kimiyoshi Yasuda
Stars: Shintarô Katsu, Shiho Fujimura, Ryûzô Shimada
Action | Adventure | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

After accidentally causing an old lady's death, Zatoichi seeks out her daughter to atone for the tragedy, consequently getting into all sorts of trouble.

Director: Shintarô Katsu
Stars: Shintarô Katsu, Kiwako Taichi, Kyoko Yoshizawa
Action | Adventure | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

The adventures of a blind, gambling masseur who also happens to be a master swordsman.

Director: Kenji Misumi
Stars: Shintarô Katsu, Masayo Banri, Ryûzô Shimada
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Zatoichi's trek through 88 temples to atone for his violent past is interrupted as he stumbles into a village terrorized by a violent yakuza boss.

Director: Kazuo Ikehiro
Stars: Shintarô Katsu, Michiyo Ohkusu, Kunie Tanaka
Action | Adventure | Drama
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The blind masseur and swordsman, Zatoichi, searches for proof an imprisoned man's innocence.

Director: Kazuo Mori
Stars: Shintarô Katsu, Kanbi Fujiyama, Eiko Taki
Drama | Adventure | Action
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Zatoichi meets an infamous blind leader of a gangster organization as he contends with a gloomy ronin widower.

Director: Kenji Misumi
Stars: Shintarô Katsu, Reiko Ôhara, Pîtâ
Action | Adventure | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

In a town where debt-ridden peasants are being ruthlessly exploited, Zatoichi is forced to take sides between a cruel yakuza boss and his seemingly altruistic rival.

Director: Satsuo Yamamoto
Stars: Shintarô Katsu, Rentarô Mikuni, Kô Nishimura
Action | Comedy | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

The blind masseur/swordsman comes to a town in control of warring gangs, and while bunking with a farming family, he meets two women with their own agenda.

Director: Takeshi Kitano
Stars: Takeshi Kitano, Tadanobu Asano, Yui Natsukawa


Credited cast:
Kanako Higuchi ...
Boss Han Bosatsu
Takanori Jinnai ...
Inspector Hanshu
Ryûtarô Gan ...
Boss Goemon (as Takehiro Okumura)
Yûya Uchida ...
Boss Akabei
Toyomi Kusano ...
Tsurutarô Kataoka ...
Miho Nakayama
Ken Ogata ...
Rônin / Masterless samurai
Norihei Miki ...
Zatoichi's friend
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Naonori Aihara
Ryo Akashi
Buntaro Aoyanaki
Yosuke Ara
Gô Awazu ...


Nearing the village of his sensei, Zatoichi decides to pay the teacher a visit, only to learn that he has been murdered and his daughter forced into prostitution. Ichi's investigation into these injustices uncovers a corrupt alliance between government officials and criminals, putting the blind swordsman on a bloody path of retribution in one of the series' darkest entries. Written by Anonymous

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Darkness is his ally [USA] See more »


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Release Date:

4 February 1989 (Japan)  »

Also Known As:

Shintaro Katsu's Zatoichi  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


On the morning of Monday 26 December 1988, in the movie village (eiga-mura) located in the mountains of Kanami, Ryûtarô Gan (age 24) - eldest son of Shintarô Katsu - stabbed Yukio Katô (age 34) in the neck with a katana long sword, while performing in an action scene for this film. Katô was taken unconscious to the Okayama University Hospital (Okayama Daigaku Igakubu Fuzoku-byôin), where he died as a result of massive blood loss from the neck wound. Hiroshima Prefectural Police determined that the incident was one of professional negligence causing death (gyômujô-kashitsu chishi). See more »


Follows Zatoichi's Conspiracy (1973) See more »


Tsugaru Jongara Bushi
Sung by Kazuko Matsumura
See more »

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User Reviews

A strong and unique entry in the Zatoichi series
27 February 2016 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

If you're not familiar with the Zatoichi series, it's the samurai equivalent of "Godzilla". From the 60's to early 70's, twenty five films were made about a blind swordsman who gives a good massage, gambles like no other, and of course, cuts down lots and lots of bad guys. Unlike the "Godzilla" films (fan as I am of them), the Zatoichi films were typically well plotted, albeit formulaic. They were generally light hearted affairs with little sprinklings of darker subject matter. "Zatoichi in Desperation" was the first time the star took the director's chair, and it was a bleak as hell, psychedelic film unlike any other in the series. With this twenty sixth film, he took the director's chair once again.

Many have commented on the, shall we say, dense plot. Rival gangs fighting over guns, over women, a rebel who becomes Zatoichi's hesitant rival, a group of children, a gambling prostitute- even at near two hours, it's a lot to take in. It's a departure from the other films which were generally very well plotted. The thing though is those films generally paired it down. This has so much going on and the way it all wrapped up seems an after thought.

For me, this isn't enough to sink this film. "Zatoichi in Desperation", the previous directorial effort of the man himself, showed a visual flare and atmosphere completely unique to the series, and he seems to be building on it here. The colors and soundtrack are for the most part, exceptionally well done and do so much for the mood.

That's exactly what this entry is: a mood film. The other Zatoichi films are all about building up bad guys for an eventual catharsis when Zatoichi either strikes down or humiliates them. In this we get the bleakness of "Desperation" mixed in with a tenderness and bittersweetness "Conspiracy" had but much more. It's more comparable to a film by Antonioni in that regard, where feeling and mood carry more weight than the plot and characters (though this comparison is superficial: this movie is nowhere near as masterful or in depth as the masterworks of Antonioni) Many seem to complain about the bleak tone and graphic violence. First off, violence and bleakness are not flaws, they are choices, and simply saying "gore, dark, bad" is not valid criticism. Secondly, why would someone watch a samurai movie if such things are a turn off to them? With that said, I can certainly see valid reasons why someone would dislike this film. If you go into this wanting an action film (and really, why wouldn't you expect that from a Zatoichi movie?), while the action scenes themselves are well done, they are very few and far in between. There's also not a whole lot of momentum in the film. Part of being this kind of mood film is a lack of such, which is somewhat at odds with an action piece. and there is no denying that the characters and plot are, well, not quite nonsensical but lacking. I found Zatoichi's political minded friend to be fairly interesting, but his plot mostly stays under the radar and it's popping up towards the end seemed random. Nothing ever quite comes fully together. It's definitely a fragmented film, which is something of a double edged sword in this context. Also strange are the cheap fade to black transitions often used. Considering this is supposed to be the high budget Zatoichi film, this is a very strange choice for me.

and as has also been mentioned, many elements are repeated from previous films. Just in terms of plot and character, it comes off as what you would get from putting a handful of other entries into a blender.

However, when all is said and done, I did enjoy this movie. It's what I call a "trip", a movie that carries me on it's mood and leaves an impression equivalent to that of a dream: near unexplainable in impact, but an impact none the less.

If you go into this with the expectations of an exciting action film, you'll get it in small doses, like a full course meal handed to you in small servings at a time. However if you go in without expectations, you might end up liking it. After twenty five Zatoichi films, most following the formula, I'm glad that we got something a bit different.

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