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Zatoichi (1989)

Zatôichi (original title)
Not Rated | | Action, Drama | 4 February 1989 (Japan)
Older, wiser but still a wandering loner, the blind, peace-loving masseur Ichi seeks a peaceful life in a rural village. When he's caught in the middle of a power struggle between two rival... See full summary »


Shintarô Katsu


Tatsumi Ichiyama (screenplay), Shintarô Katsu (screenplay) | 3 more credits »




Credited cast:
Shintarô Katsu ... Zatôichi / Ichi, a zatô in the Tôdô-za
Kanako Higuchi Kanako Higuchi ... Boss Han Bosatsu
Takanori Jinnai Takanori Jinnai ... Inspector Hanshu
Ryûtarô Gan Ryûtarô Gan ... Boss Goemon (as Takehiro Okumura)
Yûya Uchida Yûya Uchida ... Boss Akabei
Toyomi Kusano Toyomi Kusano ... Ume
Tsurutarô Kataoka Tsurutarô Kataoka ... Tsuru
Miho Nakayama
Ken Ogata ... Rônin / Masterless samurai
Norihei Miki ... Zatoichi's friend
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Naonori Aihara Naonori Aihara
Ryo Akashi Ryo Akashi
Buntaro Aoyanaki Buntaro Aoyanaki
Yosuke Ara Yosuke Ara
Gô Awazu Gô Awazu ... Kame


Older, wiser but still a wandering loner, the blind, peace-loving masseur Ichi seeks a peaceful life in a rural village. When he's caught in the middle of a power struggle between two rival Yakuza clans, his reputation as a deadly defender of the innocent is put to the ultimate test in a series of sword-slashing showdowns. Written by Tokyo Shock

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The final and most savage installment of the series. See more »


Action | Drama


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


On the morning of Monday 26 December 1988, in the movie village (eiga-mura) located in the mountains of Kanami, Ryûtarô Gan (age 24) - eldest son of Shintarô Katsu - stabbed Yukio Katô (age 34) in the neck with a katana long sword, while performing in an action scene for this film. Katô was taken unconscious to the Okayama University Hospital (Okayama Daigaku Igakubu Fuzoku-byôin), where he died as a result of massive blood loss from the neck wound. Hiroshima Prefectural Police determined that the incident was one of professional negligence causing death (gyômujô-kashitsu chishi). See more »


Follows Zatoichi the Fugitive (1963) See more »


Tsugaru Jongara Bushi
Sung by Kazuko Matsumura
See more »

User Reviews

Not brilliant, but pretty damn good.
23 May 2004 | by bloodandpopcornSee all my reviews

Zatoichi is a very strong film from the man himself, Shintaro Katsu. I won't say too much in this review, but this is a very strong entry to the Zatoichi series. It has its faults, but most of the time it is a beautifully shot piece that connects extremely will to the viewer.

The fights are great, and really make me kind of sad that Takeshi Kitano decided to go the CGI route in his version of Zatoichi. Here, the arterial sprays are real. And it is one amazingly blood-stained opus. Evidently, Shintaro's sun (the main villain) actually killed an extra during shooting! A crime or total dedication to one's character, you be the one to decide.

Some of the film's major problems: That wretched 80s English song. It's horrible. Whenever it plays, you drop out of Katsu's world. Why it is in there, I'll never understand. It's possible that the song alone (played twice) keeps this film from being great. Another problem: Zooms. I have no problem with snap zooms or very deliberate zooming shots, they can be great especially in older films, but here, the zooming is sloppy. It's as if the DP doesn't know what shot he wants, so he messes around with it as he goes. This problem only occurs maybe three times, but when it does, it stood out to me.

Otherwise, a great film. The faults I find with it are relatively minor quibbles.

Kitano's 2003 update is a better film, but this is arguably more fun and more fulfilling to Zatoichi fans.

The Media Blasters DVD is great! Surprisingly nice anamorphic transfer, good original Japanese audio with very legible English subtitles. Not much as far as special features go, but the film alone is enough to make this a worthy purchase.

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Release Date:

4 February 1989 (Japan) See more »

Also Known As:

Shintaro Katsu's Zatoichi See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Katsu Production See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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