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Zatôichi
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Reviews & Ratings for
Zatoichi More at IMDbPro »Zatôichi (original title)

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10 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

Delightfully perfect

10/10
Author: toclement
27 May 2004

What a fantastic return to form for Japanese director and creative renaissance man, Takeshi Kitano. Zatoichi excels because of its break with conventions, mixing humour, dance, slapstick, and theatre with an otherwise tense and violent plot. This film breaks the art-house tradition by going for the jugular with its entertainment value, yet it never stoops to the level of Hollywood triteness. Some may complain about how this Zatoichi isn't consistent with the original Zatoichi, but that was done by design. Kitano set out to create his own story, his own character, and his own version - simply using the legend of Zatoichi as the most basic blueprint from which to start. He deserves credit for creating something new and innovative, even when working with an old story. The dance scene at the end is phenomenal and very directly (and intentionally) reminds movie goers that you are there to be entertained. The best film I've seen this year and among Kitano's best, and that's saying a lot.

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16 out of 28 people found the following review useful:

Shameful and pathetic failed attempt of recapturing Zatoichi's magic.

3/10
Author: shaolinwind13 from West Coast USA
27 October 2005

OK, everyone loves this flick and I can see why, to a degree. We all know the fights are pretty stunning. But bloody sword battles do not make a movie/ As a major fan of the old Zatoichi series I am terribly disappointed. I went into this film with expectations. I expected the film to revisit the original series at every turn. I wanted to see Ichi cheat at gambling with the old "dice falling out of the sleeve" trick. I wanted to see him use his blindness to make people think he was weak, then punish them for taking advantage. I wanted to see him drinking hard, womanizing, and stuffing his face as often as possible. I expected him to be robust and handsome with a deep growling voice, just like the original. Instead, who did they have attempt to fill the shoes of Katsu Shintaro? An aged nobody with a feeble voice and distorted stroke-face.

The plot was weak as water. The movie was smattered with meaningless characters who provided neither humor nor serious plot device.. The retarded man who dreamed of being a samurai never did anything useful.. How cool would it have been if he showed up at just the right time to save someone's butt with his spear, and subsequently get slaughtered? It would be shocking and he would have died a hero, satisfying a samurai movie fan's lust for chivalrous self-sacrifice from the characters. The poor gambler who befriends Ichi is useless and unlikable as well. They spend endless time showing his attempt to build gambling skills, which he fails at.... and that's the end of that. WOW. That's what I call pointless. Then he gets a wild hare and wants to dress like a geisha for no apparent reason other than to put him in drag for "comic" purposes.

The camera-work was really horrible.. My main complaint was closeups where there should not have been closeups, going to reaction shots when what we wanted to see was action, starting out with a lovely angle that cuts away too fast to enjoy it.. The camera work threatens to be brilliant over and over and fails each time.

The film also insults your intelligence by providing flashbacks to scenes that happened less than a minute ago. They hand obvious facts on a platter, apparently to cater to the very least intelligent among us.

The back story of the brother and sister team on a mission for revenge brings up issues for me as well.. When their attempts to rob Ichi and his incompetent gambler friend are stopped, they suddenly tell their entire life story and plot for revenge, and then they are now all boone companions... That, in my book, makes no sense whatsoever.

And last but not least, the festival. WHAT? Ancient Japanese tap dancing? We are treated to some bizarre combination of River Dance and Stomp set to vaguely Japanese sounding music. While three men dressed like Peter Pan are tap dancing, they show all our friends from the movie there with them, and apparently they've been taking choreographed dance lessons when not slaving away as peasants under yakuza rule... And what's better, they all know to face the camera!! That doesn't look like a festival, it looks like a stage show at the holiday inn. GIVE ME A BREAK. The festival scene absolutely destroyed the tone of the movie, and was highly reminiscent of the way you end a children's movie or a cartoon.

This movie shames Zatoichi fans as well as the Japan's rich film history. The writers would need to commit seppuku to regain their honor. Long story short, real Zatoichi fans will be repulsed by this film. Steer Clear!!

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13 out of 24 people found the following review useful:

They don't make Zatoichi like they used to

3/10
Author: wanderingstar from Toronto
12 December 2006

I just finished watching this film and am surprised that it has received such a good rating on IMDb. The first problem I had was with the Zatoichi character. Zatoichi played originally by Shintaro Katsu, was humble, had a subtle humour, the seemingly bungling master swordsman. This to me is what made him a memorable character. This new Zatoichi is simply ruthless with little of the honour he should have, seems to look for a fight, doesn't speak much, has no humanity and therefore is hard to warm up to.

The plot was my second problem. Those who enjoy the original films or TV series know that one of the best things about them is how the plots are well crafted... Zatoichi 2003 was not even close in this respect.

Third was the shoddy secondary character development. For instance we were introduced to the "bodyguard" and his ailing wife and we want to sympathize with them, but then the film went nowhere with their development to make us feel anything for them. The big internal conflict in the viewer when Zatoichi meets the bodyguard in combat should be: how will I feel if this guy, who is just trying to make money to heal his sick wife, is cut down? Going into this fight, the answer is... well, not much.

Fourth was the absolutely ridiculous modern tap hip-hop dance sequence at the end - what was that about?!? Embarrassing and completely out of step with the rest of the film.

Also of note, I was under the impression this was set in the 16th century, but a revolver was pulled in one scene. A small thing but it bothered me.

One the whole very disappointing, as a film in general and especially when compared to the originals.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

I cannot recommend this film

2/10
Author: mallaverack from Australia
14 May 2014

I enjoy referring to IMDb after having watched a film. Not only do you get the impressions of other viewers but you also obtain insights into various complexities of plot and character. Having viewed 'Zatoichi'I must admit, from my reading of message boards and reviews on this site, my impressions of this film differ widely from those I have read. I would not recommend this movie to anybody.It is seemingly based on the antics of the Keystone Cops or the slapstick of old-time comedians such as Buster Keaton. Only the CG bloodletting hints at the fact that this may be a drama but I found myself asking, who would seriously consider this film fits any category apart from farce. The stupidity of so many characters, the cheap production settings and the puerile script make this truly a forgettable viewing experience.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Didn't really work for me

6/10
Author: Neil Welch from United Kingdom
1 April 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Zatoichi, ostensibly a blind wandering masseur, is actually a roving rogue samurai with a brief for righting wrongs on behalf of the downtrodden and underprivileged, a kind of Tonto-less Japanese Lone Ranger, only with a sword instead of silver bullets. He is helped in this mission by the fact that, no matter how many men the bad guys send against him, Zatoichi can slice 'em up quicker than the Head Chef at the Savoy can chop a carrot.

I'm afraid that is pretty much all you get for a plot, and you can forget characterisation as well. No, what you have here is a) a situation visited at some length on earlier films, TV etc. (apparently - I haven't seen any of them), b) a current take on on same, and c) action. Oh, and d) blood.

The action is, I suppose, moderately well choreographed: I'm no expert so I must bow to the expertise of others (I must say that I've seen other martial arts films where I have felt they were better choreographed than this one). And you get blood. Lots and lots of it, jetting about in highly stylised and unrealistic CGI blobs and slurps and gobbets.

Sadly, Zatoichi wasn't really my thing.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

A strange film about killing

6/10
Author: paul2001sw-1 (paul2001sw@yahoo.co.uk) from Saffron Walden, UK
25 November 2007

The Japanese martial arts movie borrowed a lot from, and lent a lot back to, the America western: both types of movie are explicitly genre pieces, often appearing to aim not at a perfect description of reality, but rather a perfect reflection of the stylised mental image of reality created in the mind of the viewer by all the other, similar films they have seen. In the case of the samurai movie, this means one can expect lots of graceful, bloody swordplay, and in this film, a supposedly blind hero kills well over 100 rivals in combat, even though he appears to mean nobody any harm and only gets drawn into fights when others attempt to hurt him and his friends. Other features of this version of 'Zatoichi' (the film's name is that of its hero, a regular character in an earlier series of Japanese movies) include a complex plot, and a mixture of traditional beauty with semi-modern elements (for example, in the soundtrack); the film even ends with a tap-dancing routine! Although there are striking elements to this movie, it doesn't really make a lot of sense in terms of believability, or offer much in the way of motivation for its characters' behaviour; indeed, one never gets the feeling that this was the aim. Personally, however, I'd be more interested in a film that made some attempt to show me what a samurai's life was really like.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Yes...and....no (beware possible spoilers)

Author: ThePriest (imdb@thepriest.nl) from Eindhoven, Netherlands
11 May 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Despite the mentioned CGI blood, introduced within 2 minutes of the beginning and does look fairly cheap, this movie starts out very promising. However, near the end you start to wonder wether you will get to know the background of the main character. During the movie he is exposed by the "bad" guy, however, why and how never becomes clear.

Another thing which caused a mayor "What the F###" reaction were the rithmic scenes, which were almost copy pasted directly from dancer in the dark and, especially at the end, where totally inappropriate.

However, all that besides, Zatôichi is a movie worth watching, for the fighting, the costumes and the atmosphere..

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

AS IF you need (or read) all these comments.

7/10
Author: carpet_seller from UK
23 April 2004

This film is to be viewed with tolerance - grumpy or those people who think all samurai films are serious: NEED not apply.

KNOW that it is a humorous film.

KNOW that there are quirky musical/dance sections.

KNOW that when you think "ah this might be a flashback scene" IT IS NOT. The flashback scenes are very obviously introduced by for example a character telling a story of their past..or staring into the distance in deep thought about their past.

KNOW that the translating in the subtitles is not accurate at times, which will not spoil your enjoyment of the film it will just mean that you don't laugh when you should, and you do laugh when you shouldn't AND most importantly You will be confused (or have the wrong interpretation) of the ending.

Everyone is different, my vote 7/10

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4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Overrated samurai flick

5/10
Author: Quebec_Dragon from Canada
29 June 2009

I think Zatoichi is supposed to be some kind of stylish samurai action- dramatic comedy hybrid. I found it rather mediocre. For the action parts, you mostly get fight scenes of one blind samurai (title character) or a cool expressionless ronin (samurai without a master) slicing and dicing (literally) bunches of bad guys. They're fast and look neat with some cut members but little gore. According to the director, the intentionally exaggerated blood spurts are supposed to soften the violence. I'm torn between thinking whether they look fake or cool. The main character Zatoichi is played by the director and seems suitably frail, non-talkative and mysterious. Face close-ups of him are avoided until the end. I understand the reasoning behind those choices but it doesn't help character identification. However, it never gets old seeing bad guys underestimate him only to be dispatched so efficiently.

The weary ronin and his sick wife were fascinating. The geisha assassins were interesting characters but the adult actors didn't emote well at all so it was tough to relate. The comic secondary characters (the gambler and the idiot in particular) were disappointing. They were not developed enough and they didn't pay off. The humor fell really flat for me. I didn't smile once. The gambling scenes dragged on and were boring. I could only take so much odd-even dice gambling. I do give some credit to the story for subverting some genre conventions such as building up upcoming epic duels only to have them work out another way. However, in those particular instances, it can be unsatisfying. The directing was conventional except for the fight scenes. I cannot evaluate how accurate the translations were but I was impressed by the professional quality of the dubbing and voice choices in french. Some of the best I've ever heard for an Asian film. There's an overly long group dancing number at the end that simply doesn't fit. It worked in Slumdog Millionnaire, it certainly doesn't work here. Overall, the film doesn't work as a comedy, doesn't really move you as a drama and it barely works as action but leaves you hungry for more. There are much better choices for samurai period films and for me Zatoichi is way overrated. For me, it's not really worth renting unless you're a fan of the director.

Rating: 5 out of 10.

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6 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

The most entertaining movie I've seen in a while.

10/10
Author: patathomas from United States
15 March 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I'm not an Asian movie expert, or any kind of movie expert, and there are not many movies I bother watching. Most of them are boring dribble. However, I have a few Asian movies (Roshomon, Yojimbo, Raise the Red Lantern, Ten to Chi to), and I plan to add this one. I enjoyed the music, especially when it was synchronized with work movements and other actions. Mainstream humor is not usually funny to me. The humor in "Zatoichi" made me laugh out loud throughout the movie. And, I laughed the longest and hardest during the dance scene at the end because it was such a great ongoing parody of different musical genres and periods, involving 60 dancers and including a lot of the cast. It transitioned from Shintu performance, to river dance, to Hollywood 30s-like tap extravaganza, to the 3 out-front tap dancers in green (a la the Stepp Brothers - an act that performed in early Hollywood musicals, and I think maybe on the Ed Sullivan Show, as well), to a wrap-up with the look and style of a Bollywood musical production number (camera angles & smooth, flowing, synchronized movements). I was howling by then. That, in itself made watching "Zatoichi" worthwhile. But, I just really liked the whole movie, and I can't explain exactly why because the blood and gore were a bit over the top for me. There were many reasons, and then again, maybe it was just the anticipation of seeing what surprise would come next.

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