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.
Blind masseur and master swordsman Zatoichi finds a robbed and fatally wounded pregnant woman, whose baby he delivers before she dies. He takes the baby in search of its father and finds the child's aunt, who is about to be forced into prostitution for want of a payment the dead mother was bringing. Zatoichi determines to save the woman from her fate.Written by
Jim Beaver <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Zatoichi at Large is the twenty-third entry in the Japanese franchise about the blind masseur, skilled swordsman and lowly yakuza with a strong moral compass whose words speak louder than his actions. It tells how Zatoichi meets a dying pregnant woman on the road who got attacked and robbed by an unknown assailant. Zatoichi helps her give birth to a baby boy but the mother dies in the process. With her last dying breath, she tells Zatoichi the name of the father. A child witnesses the woman's death, follows Zatoichi and occasionally throws rocks at him. Zatoichi travels to the father's hometown but only comes across his sister who reluctantly accepts to take care of the child with the help of an old family of eight children. Zatoichi decides to wait for her brother to arrive in town to bring him all the bad and good news. While he stays in town, Zatoichi witnesses how a rude boss suddenly arrives, pitilessly controls local businesses and brutally makes the local population suffer. Things get worse when the baby's father finally arrives and is told by the child who witnessed the mother's death that Zatoichi robbed and killed her. Zatoichi decides to stay to clear his name, find the mother's murderer and rid the town of its new boss.
The twenty-third film is an average movie of the Zatoichi franchise. On the positive side, the film's atmosphere is quite gloomy from start to finish which makes for a entertaining, fluid and intense experience. The idea to show how Zatoichi seems to be doomed to be misunderstood as that his good actions are so often misinterpreted as bad ones adds a tragic note to the movie and makes the protagonist even more interesting. The side characters are intriguing enough to make the viewers care about them, especially the dead mother's family. The final fight sequence is quite impressive as Zatoichi is attacked with burning ladders and needs to use all his skills to survive.
On the other side, the film's story is quite exchangeable. Zatoichi has already taken care of children of dying parents in Fight, Zatoichi, Fight as well as in Zatoichi Challenged. This movie's boss is also quite exchangeable and not a real threat for Zatoichi. The protagonists are overall much more developed than the stereotypical antagonists who remain shallow.
In the end, Zatoichi at Large will please to the franchise's collectors and fans of old date. It's interesting while it lasts but a movie you won't remember for a very long time. On the positive side, the film's gloomy atmosphere, intriguing protagonists and the final fight sequence justify watching this film. On the negative side, the antagonists remain shallow and the plot is predictable. Those who aren't familiar with the franchise yet shouldn't start here but rather watch the two excellent predecessors. Zatoichi at Large is of an average quality but a small step back after the brilliant Zatoichi Goes to the Fire Festival and Zatoichi and the One-Armed Swordsman.
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