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
"Zatô" was the lowest of the four official ranks (kan'i) within the Tôdô-za - the Kyôto-based guild for the blind established early in the Muromachi Period (1336-1573), and abolished in 1871 (the fourth year of the Meiji Restoration). The three other ranks, in ascending order, were "kôtô", "bettô", and "kengyô" - as in Agent Shiranui (1960). See more »
'Beat' Takeshi's sweeping interpretation of the Zatoichi saga...
Kitano's update on the legacy of one of Japan's most iconic cinematic figures is an exhilarating watch, the more tender moments conflicted by a barrage of bloody violence. Takeshi remains true to his source, undergoing the sedate transformation to play the blind swordsman and part time masseuse Zatoichi himself, as well as co-ordinating the action. His purists will no doubt abhor the witty sense of fun laid on thick in certain characters (a gambling sidekick and an insane neighbour) and the little nuances of irreverent genius (a drum dancing soundtrack and a ho-down finale orchestrated by Japanese dance troupe 'the Stripes'), but this isn't the Yakuza bloodletting of his earlier films, rather a more charming reflection on feudal life, with a distinct post-modern twist. Further confirmation of this is provided by Takeshi's story, which focuses more on the plight of two avenging Geishas (one male) hunting for the prestigious killers of their parents, rather than the motivation for our titular hero, yet Zatoichi does leap into action when he agrees to assist the siblings. Each frame is a Kurosawa-esquire masterstroke. This is Zatoichi for a new era, and with such a breathtaking start, it will be hard for Kitano not to return to his new-found alter ego any time soon.
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