7.5/10
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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.

Director:

Takeshi Kitano

Writers:

Takeshi Kitano (screenplay), Kan Shimozawa (novels)

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21 wins & 10 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Takeshi Kitano ... Zatôichi / Ichi (as Beat Takeshi)
Tadanobu Asano ... Hattori Genosuke
Michiyo Yasuda 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 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)
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

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 »
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Details

Country:

Japan

Language:

Japanese

Release Date:

6 September 2003 (Japan) See more »

Also Known As:

The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$61,104, 25 July 2004

Gross USA:

$853,718
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The end dance sequence is a tribute to many of the popular Japanese films, in which the Hollywood-style happy ending was followed by a sudden "burst into song". He wanted to attempt this, but in a different type of way. Kitano combined traditional Kabuki theatre clog-dancing with "the latest African-American tap style". See more »

Quotes

Shinkichi: I have to say, it's incredible. You really look like a woman! Does make-up make men beautiful?
Geisha Seitaro 'Osei' Naruto: It doesn't work on everyone. It depends on the face!
See more »

Connections

Spoofed in Glory to the Filmmaker! (2007) See more »

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User Reviews

 
With tap dancing, mundane superpowers, and an attractive albeit gender-confused cross-dresser, Zatoichi truly offers 'something for everybody'.
17 December 2004 | by colettesplaceSee all my reviews

This is a strange one, a drama/comedy/action film with absurdist overtones. In Japan, Zatoichi is a cult character who was the subject of 26 feature films between 1963 and 1989. Now director "Beat" Takeshi – best known for Hana Bi – introduces Zatoichi to a new generation. Takeshi also stars as Zatoichi, the elderly masseur and dice gambler whose hearing is so acute he can detect which side a die has fallen. He's a master swordsman, too – one slice and you're diced.

Supporting characters include two beautiful geishas avenging their parents' death, a farmer and her drunkard nephew, the gangsters running the town and a masterless samurai (an impressive performance from Tadanobu Asano).

The Blind Swordsman is great fun, although it could do with a tighter structure. And I was shocked by the spectacular tap-dancing finale – in traditional Japanese dress and shoes! ***½/***** stars.


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