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?
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.
Blind masseur and master swordsman Zatoichi finds a robbed and fatally wounded pregnant woman, whose baby he delivers before she dies. He takes the baby in search of its father and finds the child's aunt, who is about to be forced into prostitution for want of a payment the dead mother was bringing. Zatoichi determines to save the woman from her fate. Written by
Jim Beaver <firstname.lastname@example.org>
After the previous installment, which was the least formulaic so far, the franchise sadly takes another turn to the generic with Kazuo Mori's Zatoichi at Large. The truth is, this would be a pretty good movie if it was one of the earliest ones, but as #23 of the series, it comes across as a bland pastiche of all too familiar tropes and elements from the other films.
Apparently, the Zatoichi films would rarely get shown again, so directors would get comfortable with re-using themes. This one begins with the same baby plot as Fight, Zatoichi, Fight (#8) but soon turns into another "town terrorized by gangsters" deal. The final boss here is played by Rentaro Mikuni (his second appearance in the series), but doesn't get to do much that others before him didn't already. An interesting thing about this film is that the first half is utterly goofy while the second is dead serious, but aside from that, this is typical Zatoichi stuff. Of course the mystery ronin appears too, but the battle between them is remarkably lazy, like the filmmakers just said: "yeah, let's get this over with already".
The visuals are a bit above average, with a recurring color scheme of black and blue (there's a very pretty scene where Zatoichi converses with a lady in front of a sparkling creek). The intro song just lists off common Zatoichi situations, as if it's making fun of the repetitiveness of several motives of the series. Speaking of that, some ideas here were downright lifted from previous outings, like Zatoichi breastfeeding a baby (from #8), Zatoichi being mistaken for a murderer (from #22), getting trapped in a ring of fire (from #21) and fighting while on fire (from #8 again). I guess the only unique thing here is that he gets tortured by villains.
Highlight of the film: a comic relief scene where an entertainer does a show with his monkey.
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