Blind swordsman Zatoichi, jailed briefly, is implored by another prisoner to aid him in proving his innocence of a crime for which he is sentenced to death. Zatoichi is reluctant to get involved, because he knows how often such involvement has led to trouble in the past. But events conspire to thrust him repeatedly into involvement, and gradually he comes to believe in the man's innocence and determines to free him. Written by
Jim Beaver <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This Zatoichi film is pretty good--thanks to a good plot and a bit of needed humor. The film begins with Zatoichi being caned and imprisoned briefly for illegal gambling. The guy in the adjoining cell has been sentenced to death and he pleads with the blind man to help him, as he's done nothing and was wrongly convicted. He wants Ichi to see the boss in a nearby town, as they are friends and this friend would never let him be executed. For once, Zatoichi isn't eager to do good--after all, what can he do to help the guy? And, he figures, he's probably NOT innocent after all.
Soon after being released, Ichi is back to his usual gambling and there he meets an idiot named Hyakutaro. Hyakutaro decides to be nice and let Zatoichi be his partner in gambling--after Ichi proves to be not only an amazing gambler but an amazing swordsman. The guy turns out to be very talkative and annoying. When the two soon separate, Ichi wanders about...until he learns that Hyakutaro is telling everyone in the boss' city that HE is the great swordsman, Zatoichi! Ichi knows he needs to confront the idiot (especially since he's doing a lot to damage Ichi's good reputation)--and he can also talk to this boss about his imprisoned friend.
The boss listens to Zatoichi's account of the friend in prison awaiting execution. The boss agrees that the man is his friend AND he could never have committed any crime. He also agrees to go to the prison and arrange his release. However, this boss is, according to a lady in town, quite the liar and Ichi should be very careful.
In the next scene, Hyakutaro quickly is caught pretending to be Zatoichi by Zatoichi himself in a rather funny scene. It seems that "Zatoichi" has expensive habits and agrees to work with the boss IF he gets very well paid, the best food and women. To placate this fake Zatoichi, they also arrange for him to get a massage...and you can probably guess who his masseur is! You can probably also guess that the boss really IS a scoundrel, as he is responsible for sending his friend to jail on trumped up charges. And, predictably, the boss sends out his goons to kill Ichi. And, also quite predictably, Ichi cuts them to ribbons with his fancy swordsmanship.
Overall, this is another solid film in the franchise. While an awful lot of it is familiar, it is well done AND there is some nice (and not overdone) comic relief.
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