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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 38,645 users   Metascore: 75/100
Reviews: 188 user | 183 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
See  »

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 »


Shinkichi: Massuer, did you see that?
Zatôichi: I don't see much
See more »


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

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User Reviews

They don't make 'em like this anymore...oh wait!
29 March 2005 | by (Beverley Hills, England) – See all my reviews

Takeshi Kitano's offbeat samurai drama marks a personal triumph for the man himself and a notable entry for the genre. Kitano directs and stars as the blind samurai of Japanese pulp fiction; Zatôichi. He puts in a grand performance and really brings the character to life. His direction is superb also, and he succeeds in creating a foreboding and tension filled atmosphere that also captures the familiar Kurosawa-esque feel of the classic samurai movies. The story follows the fate of blind samurai master: Zatôichi. This master doesn't let a small thing like losing his sight get in the way, and in spite of being blind, the master is still the fastest man with a sword; as he proves on a number of occasions. The first thing you will notice about the fight scenes in this movie is that they are bloodthirsty! That's no bad thing, of course, especially since the second thing you will notice is that there's lots of them. The fight sequences are definitely the highlight of the movie, and they include some highlights in themselves; as we watch in delight as limbs fly and people get sliced and diced! The fights in this film make the likes of Kill Bill look even more ridiculous than it does already.

Takeshi Kitano creates his own world for the characters in the movie to inhabit, and he also seems keen to incorporate as many elements as possible into the plot, which is good in one way as it ensures that the movie is always intriguing and interesting, but it does get a little convoluted and, at times, makes you think "what's that there for?!". Still, the film does offer lots of interesting little tidbits, and it never gets so convoluted that it becomes boring. Well, it can't do; there's always another fight scene round the corner! The film is artistically played throughout, and you get the impression that Kitano has an obvious respect for the art of cinema, which is certainly no bad thing at all. Even though the plot is very familiar, and anyone that's seen more than a couple of samurai movies will have seen one with a plot like this one has; it's inventive enough to carve out a niche of it's own, and it draws it's originality from that fact. On the whole, this isn't a great samurai movie like the ones of yore; but it's encouraging that films like this are still being made, and it's easily one of the best movies of 2003. Recommended viewing!

46 of 83 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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