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?
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.
With a price on his head, Ichi seeks tranquillity in a favorite village. Since his last visit, it has fallen prey to Boss Masagoro, the son of a merchant rumored to have stolen gold from the shogunate. The boss has hired Yojimbo as his hard-drinking enforcer, but Yojimbo is both a spy for the shogunate, trying to find the gold, and in love with the merchant's unwilling mistress, Umeno. Ichi hires on as the merchant's masseur and buys Umeno's freedom with his employer's own money. This embarrasses Yojimbo who withdraws from a pact with Ichi to stir up trouble between father and son and their gangs. As the two sides fight, Ichi finds the gold and sets up a final set of confrontations.Written by
As one of the other reviews mentioned, you should really start with the original "Yojimbo" to fully appreciate the Mifune character here. However, this was my first Zatoichi story, and I enjoyed it immensely.
The two characters have a great repertoire, an uneasy adversarial partnership, further complicated by the appearance of a third mystery agent, and the various dealings of Mifune and his boss.
This particular storyline allows Mifune especially some time to explore the farther corners of his Yojimbo/Sanjuro character. We see some comedy, and even some romance... though Sanjuro might be loathe to admit it. The ending even makes sense, in a strange way, providing a possible closure on the character's fate.
Ichi and Sanjuro are funny together, and their chemistry is really entertaining. Katsu Shintaro sketches Zatoichi as both a master swordsman, and a bit of a klutz. He treads a fine comedic line between having fun at Ichi's expense, and portraying Ichi as a cleverly self-deprecating tactician.
Finally, the Chambara Entertainment version (released recently) had an excellent transfer, was widescreen, and came with a very informative little insert, explaining some of the more esoteric terms and puns. The subtitling was superb as well, using different colors to denote who was talking.
I highly reccomend this movie for fans of chambara, and especially for fans of Mifune and Shintaro! Mind you, it's not Kurosawa, but it's decently-made, and the actors are very entertaining.
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