196 user 188 critic

The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi (2003)

Zatôichi (original title)
The blind masseur/swordsman comes to a town in control of warring gangs, and while bunking with a farming family, he meets two women with their own agenda.


Takeshi Kitano


Takeshi Kitano (screenplay), Kan Shimozawa (novels)
24 wins & 15 nominations. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Takeshi Kitano ... Zatôichi / Ichi (as Beat Takeshi)
Tadanobu Asano ... Hattori Genosuke
Michiyo Yasuda ... Aunt Oume (as Michiyo Ohkusu)
Taka Guadalcanal Taka Guadalcanal ... Shinkichi
Daigorô Tachibana Daigorô Tachibana ... Geisha Seitaro 'Osei' Naruto
Yûko Daike ... Geisha Okinu Naruto
Yui Natsukawa ... O-Shino, Hattori's Wife
Ittoku Kishibe Ittoku Kishibe ... Boss Inosuke Ginzo
Saburô Ishikura Saburô Ishikura ... Boss Tashichi Ogi
Akira Emoto Akira Emoto ... Tavern Owner Pops
Ben Hiura Ben Hiura ... Tavern Gramps
Kohji Miura Kohji Miura ... Lord Sakai
Hideboh Hideboh ... Dancing Farmer (as The Stripes)
Ron II Ron II ... Dancing Farmer (as The Stripes)
Suji Suji ... Dancing Farmer (as The Stripes)


Blind Zatoichi makes his living by gambling and giving massages. But behind his humble facade, Zatoichi is a master swordsman, gifted with lightning-fast draw and strokes of breathtaking precision. Zatoichi wanders into a town run by sinister gangs and a powerful samurai. He's destined for violent showdowns when he stumbles on two beautiful geishas avenging their parents' murder... Duels, wit and a touch of zen! Cult anti-hero Zatoichi is back in a sword-fighting adventure written, directed and starring Takeshi Kitano. Written by intlpress@aol.com

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


His Sword Made Him a Hero... His Courage Made Him a Legend. This Summer, Justice is Blind.

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong stylized bloody violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Michiyo Ohkusu, the actress who played the old woman who offered Zatoichi a place to stay previously appeared in another Zatoichi movie years ago. In the film Zatoichi's Pilgrimage (1966), she played Zatoichi's love interest. See more »


Shinkichi: Massuer, did you see that?
Zatôichi: I don't see much
See more »


Version of Zatoichi: The Last (2010) See more »

User Reviews

dancing Zatoichi
28 June 2006 | by winner55See all my reviews

beat takeshi's tribute to shintaro katsu has been a little controversial as one could have predicted. The final entry of the series, directed by shintaro katsu himself, was also controversial, since it is the bloodiest, most uncompromising, and most swiftly paced of that series, presenting us with pretty raw film with some unsettling themes. - ultimately, zatoichi leaves the world pretty much as corrupted by yakusa as he first finds it.

takeshi's zatoichi comes to us very stylized - blond, with clean clothes, a very neatly crafted sword cane. The violence is augmented by CGI blood spurting (in the documentary accompanying the film on DVD, takeshi is frank that he wanted the blood to look a little phony). And then there is the dance segment at the end, foreshadowed throughout the film by rhythmic natural sounds of men and women at work.

After trying to get a hold on this film and its clearly complex relationship to the original series, through multiple viewings of the film, I think I've finally grasped that the dance sequence is really the heart of the whole film. no matter what you think of it in relationship to the rest of the film, it's extremely entertaining ; so, perhaps that's all we need to know about this film - perhaps it's all we need to know about the original zatoichi series as well.

There is a strange question that recurs again and again in Takeshi's films - what do we do to entertain ourselves when death is near, and there's neither need nor possibility of accomplishing anything with a purpose? In most of Takeshi's films, the proper response to that question is to live life like a circus. Here, obviously, salvation is to be found in dance. I'm not sure that these answers are satisfactory; but the question is too disturbing to ignore.

17 of 28 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 196 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »






Release Date:

6 September 2003 (Japan) See more »

Also Known As:

The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$61,104, 25 July 2004

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

Recently Viewed