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

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Takeshi's revisionist take on a popular Japanese hero

Author: aansford from Japan
18 January 2005

Takeshi's zatoichi is a multi-layered epic that combines Western style post-modernist irony with Japanese purity. Takeshi successfully fuses Chambara (violent samurai drama),tap-dancing,Jacobean revenge dramas, Tarantino,. Takeshi's portrayal makes zatoichi a Colombo-like figure who quietly outwits his opponents vanity. Takeshi's vision is clear here, to trawl the best elements of eastern and western drama to revitalize both.Japanese Art< Literature and film has been stagnating of late+Takeshi is the man who can save it. I recommend this movie for anyone who is interested in seeing cinema which stenches the boundaries and is entertaining as well.

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

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

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

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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4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Totally convincing Kitano

Author: Atavisten from Tellus
2 June 2005

Beat Takeshi does a remake of one of the most popular film series in Japan about the blind swordsman Zatoichi and this is what a remake should look like, not like those crappy stars-sfx-and-nothing-else Hollywood remakes.

Having seen only the first of the series I didn't recognize many references in the movie, but the few I spotted were very clever, not copying, but putting it in new context.

The story is good, coupled with many funny excursions about hancho gambling, a crazy man running around in his undies and so on, and the actors are all well picked and does a very good job. This turned me into a big Kitano fan.

Some complain about the blood looking to cgi, I think its for the better. Its not a film about the horrors of sword fighting.

Kitano's usual partner in crime Joe Hisaishi was dropped in favour of Keiichi Suzuki and for the better of it IMO. What a wonderful and funny score that syncronizes with the sound from the film (or is it the other way around?), takes traditional sounds into the future and fuses them with African and South American rhythms very successfully. The final song is a real frenzy of samba, tapdancing and I can swear that he quotes the house club classic 'The Bomb' by 'The Bucketheads' an alias for Kenny Dope of the 'Masters at Work'. Fantastic. How can you not smile?

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5 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

A modern tale of samurais

Author: Lady Targaryen from Brazil
24 October 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

In the 19th century, Zatoichi is an old blind man, who makes his living as a gambler and masseur. Looking harmless and being a nomad, he is in fact a killer machine, being highly-skilled in swordsmanship with strokes of great precision. One day, Zatoichi arrives in a city ruled by the local mafia, and after helping an old woman, she offers him her home as a shelter to him. Meeting and hearing story after a story of people who have suffered at the hands of the local mafia boss, and making new allies in the village, Zatoichi decides to help the village to get rid off the criminals.

I liked ''Zatoichi' a lot, and I almost felt like I was watching a modern type of akira kurosawa's movie! Even being familiarized with the samurai theme and being a manga reader, I was surprised of how much this movie was interesting and cool. (I can imagine how nice must be to watch the series of films and the television series about Zatoichi's adventures!)

I read somewhere that Takeshi Kitano's blond hair and the excessive and unreal blood of the movie was made on purpose, to create something different from other movies, so people, don't give lower ratings for the film because of that!

Everyone who likes Samurais and Akira Kurosawa's productions should watch this film!

Ps: Just a small curiosity: To be a masseur was a traditional occupation for the blind, since blind persons and masseurs were on the lowest societal level in Japan, equal to or slightly above beggars.

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7 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

I thought it was overrated (spoilers)

Author: (dj_bassett) from Philadelphia
15 August 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Zatoichi wanders into a small village dominated by gangs: in traditional Wild West fashion, he cleans house.

This was my first Zatoichi and Kitano movie, which might explain my lukewarm feelings -- apparently people who know Kitano's work are much more impressed by this. I thought the movie was okay, nothing great, and certainly not deserving of the plaudits being heaped on it.

The pacing is all off -- scenes that should last for a minute or two (a lengthy montage between the geishas as children and the geishas today) go on interminably, while scenes that need a bit more foreplay (the run up to the big battles in the courtyard and against the ronin/bodyguard) are too brief. The story is relatively simple, even cliched, which is fine except Kitano doesn't seem to know where to focus his attention: either the geishas or the ronin are more interesting characters than Zatoichi himself, and deserved either much more screentime or much less. As it stands they feel like "types" more than living breathing characters, figures in need of development.

The fight scenes are okay but overrated: if you've seen any samurai movies before you've seen better stuff. Yes, they're bloody, but not unusally so: check out AZUMI for a better use of gory effects.

It is very funny in spots, which is apparently typical of Kitano's work. The best sequence by far is the concluding tap dance number, which feels utterly natural and joyous, if more than a bit absurd. But there's my problem with this movie in a nutshell: if the best things in your action movie are the jokes and musical number, you're in trouble.

It's okay, just overrated. AZUMI is a wilder ride, TWILIGHT SAMURAI a far more interesting attempt at doing something interesting within genre conventions.

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An utter delight and a shot of joy to the heart and mind

Author: CarlosERM from Venezuela
11 July 2015

My rating: 9.0/10

My opinion on the film:

Zatôichi was a completely delightful entertainment. It was a samurai tale that combined flawlessly cool sword fighting sequences with several humorous moments that were smartly placed and, more importantly, really funny. The plot was very well constructed and hid quite a few surprises that were revealed little by little right until the end.

Something that I found absolutely wonderful about this movie was the score. The music was virtually another character.

As strange as this may sound, in spite of containing so many quirky elements, the characters were very human and easy to connect with. Takeshi Kitano not only directed and wrote the movie but also played Zatôichi, the blind masseur/swordsman, with tons of humor and energy. The rest of the cast also did remarkable jobs.

This was a film that's not only worth writing or reading about; instead it demands to be seen in order to appreciate its charm and its indescribable appeal. It is an utter delight and a shot of joy to the heart and mind.

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The Terminator in Edo Japan

Author: Christopher Culver
17 May 2015

In early 2004 I saw Takeshi Kitano's ZATOICHI in the local cinema, intrigued by a Japanese feature but knowing nothing of the long tradition of films with Zatoichi, the blind swordsman. I never did see the 20-odd earlier films with Shintaro Katsu, but I continue to enjoy Takeshi Kitano's take on the character. The plot is fairly basic: rival gangs are fighting for control of a small town, and the locals are obliged to pay increasing amounts protection money. Into this steps Zatoichi, played by Takeshi himself, as well as another itinerant swordsman who seeks to do the dirty work of one of the gangs in order to help his sick wife. Zatoichi falls in with a poor farmer, as do two geishas who are traveling about to get revenge on the gang members who killed their parents. Over the course of the films, Zatoichi proceeds to slay an enormous amount of people, with some vivid CGI blood painted over each fatal sword blow. In spite of the generic setup, the production values and a few of the twists in the story make this an entertaining film.

I know that Takeshi has been criticized for completely doing away with the back story around Zatoichi. Here the only sign that he has a past at all is when a gang member asked "Could this blind man be Zatoichi?", and a flashback where he silently kills a group of nameless foes. Instead, Takeshi brings the character between the two extremes of charming, but taciturn, old blind man and unstoppable killing machine. But nonetheless, I like how universal the Zatoichi character is, even when he is as mechanical as Kitano sometimes makes him. The archetype of the man of piercing intelligence who fains disability or madness appears in Western art from Hamlet to Russian holy fools, so all audiences will respond to Zatoichi. And sure, the action is sometimes hard to believe, but Takeshi knows this and has injected a level of grim humour into the film.

My big complaint about the film's action is that the final battle between Zatoichi and the yakuza boss is anticlimactic. After building up the polarity between them for over an hour, there could have been more to it than a single blow. In addition, the soundtrack strikes me as exceedingly lame until the nice taiko drumming that closes the film.

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A complete dud.

Author: Larry Singleton from United States
5 September 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Any one of the Shintarô Katsu Zatoichis was better than this disappointment. The guy had the personality of... ....well, he just didn't have one. I'm trying to remember; did this guy say anything in this movie? Mostly it was a bunch of grunts and stupid laughter. I was actually going to buy the DVD until I was able to download it via Torrent. (Thank You GOD!)The whole movie, for me, was waiting for something to happen. Some improvement on the old Zatoichi. And the "plot"...? Really, the only reason you want to watch this is to confirm how much better the old movies were, which I'm now on my second round. There will be no next time for this movie.

I went ahead and clicked the "spoiler" button. I'm not sure whether this qualifies as a "spoiler" but hopefully it will give people a heads up before they waste their money on a DVD.

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To see with eyes unclouded by hate.

Author: morrison-dylan-fan from United Kingdom
24 May 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Since having read a good amount of praise for writer/directing auteur Takeshi Kitano for the last few months,and also having heard a good amount of praise for a Japanese film series called Zatoichi,I was delighted to recently discover that Kitano had made a movie in the Zatoichi series,which led to me happily getting ready to meet Kitano and Zatoichi for the first time.

The plot:

Traveling around on his own,a blind swordsmen called Zatoichi meets a farmer called Oume who is struggling to keep her farm going.Helping out Oume in keeping her small village farm going,Zatoichi discovers that the residence of the village are caught in the middle of an ongoing Yakuza gang war,with each of the gangs having increased their demands for 'protection money from the residences,from every month,to now every day.

Furious over the terror that the gangs have placed the village in,Zatoichi decides that he is going to take them all on until they are completely cleared from the village.Getting ready to fight all of the gangsters on his own,Zatoichi soon discovers that there are other mysterious strangers who are planning to get their own deadly revenge on the Yakuza.

View on the film:

Opening with a short 'n' swift sword fight,writer/director/co-editor (along with Yoshinori Ohta) and lead actor Takeshi Kitano shows a tremendous eye for stylisation in the movies blistering action scenes,with Kitano using overly exaggerated CGI blood so as to create a warped feeling of blood-coloured flowers scattering the screen,which are met by the sharp slice and dice of every sword attack in the title.

Along with the stylish fight scenes,Kitano also gives the village side of the movie a wonderful warmth,with Kitano using light blues and greens so as to build a relaxing atmosphere which is getting destroyed by the Yakuza.

Despite displaying a real sense of style in his directing,and also giving a delightful performance in the title role,Kitano is sadly never able to make the screenplay match the pace of the excellent visuals.Reveal the gangs to have complete control of the village right from the start,Kitano fails to create any sense of anticipation to either the gangs losing their power,or Zatoichi taking them on,thanks to Kitano not giving the villain's the slightest depth,and also weirdly deciding to keep them mostly off screen for the middle section of the movie,which leads to this film being one which sadly cant be seen at full vision.

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