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Zatoichi tries to unrest the mob rule over a small village all while the gang leader's bodyguard is actually the Yojimbo, secretly taking the gang down from the inside. Will the two heroes realize in time that they are on the same side?
Cowritten by star Shintaro Katsu, this adventure pits Zatoichi against one of his most diabolical foes: a blind yakuza boss whose reign of terror and exploitation has made him nearly mythic... See full summary »
Nearing the village of his sensei, Zatoichi decides to pay the teacher a visit, only to learn that he has been murdered and his daughter forced into prostitution. Ichi's investigation into ... See full summary »
After an artist is threatened by the yakuza into creating valuable but highly illegal pornography, the law aims to execute him. Zatoichi, having been honor bound to protect the man and his family, must now run against the law.
Excited at first to see a new Ichi movie, I was very disappointed as the movie dragggggged on. Having seen I believe every movie in the series, and some of the TV shows from the 70's, I can say with some validity that this movie has very little in common with any of them. Character name and cane sword, yes, but that's about it. The humanity, pathos and occasional comic touch, as played by Katsu (the original Zatoichi) is almost totally absent.
The script and plot are very hard to follow (and this from an avid follower of Japanese films). If you're not familiar with the feudal Japan of a few hundred years ago, and the role played by the yakuza there, you'll be totally lost. The movie is probably at least 30 minutes too long, with many scenes screaming for a less self-indulgent director/editor. I found myself frequently hitting fast-forward to shorten lengthy scenes of just walking, sitting, etc.
To top it off, Zatoichi films have at their core the singular hook of a blind swordsman prevailing against multiple foes. Unfortunately, the swordplay is very weak, and not staged very well. The actor playing Ichi looks as if he spent a few weeks learning iaido for the first time. Katsu's Ichi was heroic and larger-than-life, and there's just never a sense of that essential quality in this movie.
Finally, without giving anything away, I will just say the ending is arguably the worst ending I have seen in many decades. Watch ANY other of the dozens of Zatoichi movies, or the 100+ movie-quality TV episodes, and you'll be much happier.
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