A Great Disappointment is really the best way to describe Zatoichi the Last. To give you an idea, I registered with IMDb for the sole purpose of writing this review.
Quite simply this movie drags on and on, lacks a sense of understanding why half the things that are occurring take place, and gives back very little on the sword play. As a long time fan of the entire zatoichi line of movies and TV series it goes without saying that anyone other Katsu Shintaro (The original and only Zatoichi worth the name)is an incredibly hard act to follow. He gives such personality, such acting mastery, such depth that is fairly impossible to live up to that standard. But this review does not take that into account. No one will portray Zatoichi as good as Katsu, but, even still, this movie hardly even makes the attempt. The inspiration is there, the cane sword, the manner of clothing, even the cinematography style, but, this really gives no sense to the character as Zatoichi. Simply put, but for the fact we are told this is Zatoichi, virtually nothing else exists to support it. The swordplay is fairly lame, you never get a sense of true mastery in this incarnation of Zatoichi. He is yakuza only because someone mentions it. Nothing drives the storyline with any sound basis and the ending, while can have a dramatic affect in some story lines sorely does not in this.
In a nutshell, while the filming casts beautiful locals and captures that natural Japanese landscape you'd expect, if you are a Zatoichi fan, this movie is inappropriately named. This is not the last tale of Zatoichi, the 1989 movie was. You'll get no sense this has any continuity to the Zatoichi of yore.Its not even a good story in it's own right. This is not a reflection of the actor's skill, it is a reflection of the writers failure in this endeavor to involk even the spirit of such a great charatcer as is Zatoichi. I had looked so forward to this and I couldn't have been more disappointed, sad to say.
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