The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi (2003)
"Zatôichi" (original title)

R  |   |  Action, Comedy, Crime  |  6 September 2003 (Japan)
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 38,952 users   Metascore: 75/100
Reviews: 188 user | 184 critic | 33 from

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.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Zatôichi / Ichi (as Beat Takeshi)
Michiyo Ohkusu ...
Aunt Oume
Taka Guadalcanal ...
Daigorô Tachibana ...
Geisha Seitaro 'Osei' Naruto
Geisha Okinu Naruto
Yui Natsukawa ...
O-Shino, Hattori's Wife
Ittoku Kishibe ...
Boss Inosuke Ginzo
Saburô Ishikura ...
Boss Tashichi Ogi
Akira Emoto ...
Tavern Owner Pops
Ben Hiura ...
Tavern Gramps
Kohji Miura ...
Lord Sakai
Hideboh ...
Dancing Farmer (as The Stripes)
Ron II ...
Dancing Farmer (as The Stripes)
Suji ...
Dancing Farmer (as The Stripes)


Blind Zatoichi makes his living by gambling and giving massages. But behind his humble facade, Zatoichi is a master swordsman, gifted with lightning-fast draw and strokes of breathtaking precision. Zatoichi wanders into a town run by sinister gangs and a powerful samurai. He's destined for violent showdowns when he stumbles on two beautiful geishas avenging their parents' murder... Duels, wit and a touch of zen! Cult anti-hero Zatoichi is back in a sword-fighting adventure written, directed and starring Takeshi Kitano. Written by

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


His Sword Made Him a Hero... His Courage Made Him a Legend. This Summer, Justice is Blind.

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong stylized bloody violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

6 September 2003 (Japan)  »

Also Known As:

The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$816,174 (Japan) (12 September 2003)


$853,718 (USA) (24 September 2004)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


The dance sequence at the end of the film features all of the villagers, but not the villains. Zatôichi, however, is not there. Writer/director Takeshi Kitano's reason for not including Zatôichi into the sequence was because he felt that Zatôichi was more of a villain. See more »


Zatôichi: [Last lines: Zatoichi trips on a rock while walking down a road] Even with my eyes wide open, I can't see anything.
See more »


Referenced in The Making of Zatoichi (2004) See more »

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User Reviews

A absolutely enchanting film!
22 July 2004 | by (Muntinlupa, Philippines) – See all my reviews

Zatoichi is the updated version of cult Japanese show some decades back.Here a blind swordsman goes to a small town controlled by a ruthless gang and abuses the people there. There he meets many characters like the siblings on a mission, a samurai who is hired by the gang, as well as an unlucky gambler who befriends the blind swordsman.

This is the first ever Takeshi Kitano film I have ever seen and I got to say it turned out to be a rather pleasant surprise. Prior to this I have heard so much about Kitano's work and was really expecting to see a really good film. Add to that every samurai film I see normally gets compared to Kurosawa's works like Rashomon, and Ran which of course are tough acts to follow. I thought the film was well made in many aspects. The cinematography was really beautiful and well made. The costumes like most period films were finely crafted and were beautiful. The scoring was also very good.

I always find it rather hard to laugh in a film that is non-English. I guess I always believed that humour doesn't always transcend different cultures. What may be funny for one may seem rather dull in another. This film however debunks that thought. I found myself laughing over a lot of scenes in the film. Even in scenes where you do not think there could be a funny moment Kitano is able to deliver one just to break the tension a little.

The fight scenes in this film were also well planned and I though it was done realistically but not necessarily done to shock the audiences with bucket loads of blood and mangled body parts. It was effective but not too disturbing.

I also thought that the overall story of the film was good. I was particularly interested with the story of the siblings and it's eventual resolution at the end of the movie.

Takeshi Kitano's Zatoichi is a great film which now ranks as one of my and hopefully it will be to other people. I'm already anticipating the next film from this great film and will also look for some of his earlier works.

35 of 47 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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