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Zatoichi and the Chess Expert (1965)

Zatôichi Jigoku tabi (original title)
Not Rated | | Action, Adventure, Drama | 24 December 1965 (Japan)
A samurai with a high skill in chess makes friends with Zatoichi, who finds that things become peculiar in his presence.

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Promising to make a delivery for a dying man, the blind swordsman Zatoichi comes across the usual crime gangs but also meets a blind monk who brings into question his use of violence.

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The blind masseur and swordsman, Zatoichi, searches for proof an imprisoned man's innocence.

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Zatoichi's trek through 88 temples to atone for his violent past is interrupted as he stumbles into a village terrorized by a violent yakuza boss.

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After Zatoichi learns of his sensei's murder he uncovers a horrible conspiracy involving the local government and crime family.

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When Zatoichi witnesses the murder of a young mother he promises to deliver the baby to the father. Along the way he gains the help of a reluctant criminal.

Director: Kenji Misumi
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Zatoichi is mistaken for a thief. To clear his name he must find and defeat the real villain.

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The blind swordsman tries to locate a girl's missing father.

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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.

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Zatoichi, while fighting off the usual group of gangsters, meets the apprentice of the swordsman who created his blade, who relays bad news about the sword.

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After being wounded in a fight, Zatoichi is nursed to health by a young woman and her father. Now indebted to the family, he works to protect their ferry business from local thugs.

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In a town where debt-ridden peasants are being ruthlessly exploited, Zatoichi is forced to take sides between a cruel yakuza boss and his seemingly altruistic rival.

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Zatoichi is tricked by a crime gang into killing a man. Realizing his mistake, he sets out to protect the dead man's sister, who is conflicted in accepting his help.

Director: Kenji Misumi
Stars: Shintarô Katsu, Yoshiko Mita, Makoto Satô
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Cast

Credited cast:
... Zatoichi
Mikio Narita ... Tadasu Jumonji
Chizu Hayashi ... Enoshimeya
Kaneko Iwasaki ... Tane
Gaku Yamamoto ... Tomonoshin Sagawa
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Saburô Date
Tatsuo Endô ... Yakuza boss of Ejimaya
Takuya Fujioka
Kanae Kobayashi ... Widow Tarozaemon
Fujio Suga ... Injury prone Banyu yakuza
Rokkô Toura
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Storyline

Zatoichi makes friends with a dangerous chess player, while fending off angry yakuza and bloodthirsty relatives out for revenge, and trying to save a sick child. Meanwhile, his luck with dice is turning... Written by eirias <eirias@iname.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Certificate:

Not Rated
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Details

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Release Date:

24 December 1965 (Japan)  »

Also Known As:

Zatoichi and the Chess Expert  »

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Color:

(Daieicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Connections

Followed by Zatoichi's Vengeance (1966) See more »

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User Reviews

Zatoichi and the Chess Expert (1965)
8 August 2015 | by See all my reviews

Zatoichi and the Chess Expert (Zatoichi #12), known under the more obscure title Showdown for Zatoichi (while the original title translates to something like Zatoichi's Infernal Journey) is director Kenji Misumi's third Zatoichi film and is often brought up by fans when discussing the best entries of the series. While I certainly understand why some people would think this was one of the better ones, I don't really hold it in much of a high regard, especially when compared to previous Misumi films.

#12 doesn't throw a lot of its budget on action sequences, focusing instead on character-driven drama and suspense. The few action scenes we get sadly can't hold a candle to sword-fight choreography of previous installments, although the violence in #12 is a bit more brutal at some points. The characters are nothing new, really. There's the love interest, the endangered kid and the obligatory up-to-no-good ronin dressed all in black (the titular chess master). However, we do get an ass-kicking lady taking vengeance on the said ronin, and this isn't really the shiniest spot in Zatoichi's career either. His gambling streak oscillates and he is really clumsy in this movie.

It is kinda refreshing that there is no criminal organization in cahoots with the officials this time, but the major problem of the film that it spends too much of its running time on numerous run-on-the-mill gambling scenes instead of developing the female samurai sub-plot. Also, the ending is rushed. So, so rushed. The only thing I got out of this movie is that chess figures had a very unimaginative design in feudal Japan.

Highlight of the film would probably have to be Zatoichi's mini-speech on dirt: "The man you're looking at is dirt. And everyone who comes close to him or touches him, in one way or another gets muddied by that dirt. There's nothing I can do about being dirt myself, but I don't what you to get mired in my dirt."


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