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.
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?
Zatoichi comes upon the town of Tonda, overrun by gangsters. Using one of his favorite techniques, Zatoichi proceeds to win 8 ryo in a rigged gambling game. Of course, the local gangsters attempt to kill him, and the adventure begins. It turns out a blacksmith named Senzo examines Zatoichi's cane sword, and discovers it to be forged by his old mentor. Senzo discovers the sword is at the end of its usefulness and will break when it is used next....Written by
Matt Hartley (int1)
Third time Tatsuo Endo played an antagonistic Yakuza boss in a Zatoichi movie. In the next one, Zatoichi the Outlaw (1967), he again played another Yakuza boss. See more »
After Oshizu serves Zatoichi some food her brother comes to talk to her. In the background Zatoichi spills some of his rice as he's eating it from a bowl, twice. He picks up the first portion he spilled on his lap easily but while picking up the second portion he spilled off to his side, he tries to pick it up like the blind character he plays, without looking. Not finding that portion, he looks down to see where it's at, then proceeds to pick it up before the scene cuts. See more »
Thanks, old man. I owe you one. You switched the old blade in my cane sword for the new one you poured your heart and soul into.
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Zatoichi's Cane Sword is the fifteenth entry in the franchise about the clever gambler, blind masseur and skilled swordsman with a lowly yakuza background and I still can't get enough of this series with its authentic atmosphere bringing rural Japan of the mid-nineteenth century to life, with its unique lead character with a strong moral compass masterfully played by a credible Katsu Shintaro and the cool story lines involving conspiracies, greed, love, murder and redemption. As in many other films, Zatoichi comes across a dying boss who can only tell him his name. The blind masseur goes to the next town and stays in an old inn where he comes across the dead man's children. While the son is reluctant to take over his father's business, the daughter is determined to convince him and save their family's reputation. However, another boss named Iwagoro, supported by corrupt government official Inspector Kuwayama, wants to take over the dead man's business by any means necessary. Zatoichi tries to remain neutral in the conflict but when the dead man's son is brutally killed and the dead man's daughter lured away from the inn, Zatoichi decides to set things right. However, there is one big problem. The local blacksmith informs Zatoichi that his cane sword is about to break and that the blind masseur might only have one strike left before it snaps.
As usual, there are many positive elements about this film. First of all, the characters are very nicely developed in this film. The drunk blacksmith that rediscovers his art, the determined daughter who never gives up, the reluctant son who wants to avoid conflicts, the pervert government official and the wicked boss are all intriguing characters. The fact that Zatoichi has to fight without his usual cane sword at times adds some tension to the film. The movie has a few interesting twists that keep the viewers interested until the very end. The final fight sequence at night and in the snow when both Zatoichi and his opponents use numerous tricks to fight each other is particularly well-choreographed. In addition to this, the movie includes a few brief yet refreshing humorous scenes such as Zatoichi performing a chant and dance to make fun of the evil boss and Zatoichi playing a game of dice with an overtly self-confident loudmouth who challenges him to a duel.
However, the film also has a few flaws. The story is extremely similar to other movies and lacking some fresh originality. On the other side, the story is also more complex and at times a little bit hard to follow with its numerous characters, side stories and minor twists. It would have been better if the movie had been a few minutes longer to tell this complex story in greater detail.
Still, Zatoichi's Cane Sword is an above average entry in the franchise. The tense atmosphere in the inn where several key scenes take place is a very intriguing guiding line. The characters have depth and you either root for them or despise them quickly. The complex story is a little bit more challenging than usual which has positive and negative consequences. Collectors and fans of the franchise might appreciate this movie more than some of the weaker previous films but it's not strong enough in my book to be among the franchise's best entries. Those who aren't familiar with Zatoichi yet shouldn't start here and discover the series in chronological order.
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