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Zatôichi (2003)

  Directed by: Takeshi Kitano
Written by: Takeshi Kitano, Kan Shimozawa
Starring: Yuuko Daike, Takeshi Kitano, Michiyo Ookusu, Daigorô Tachibana, Gadarukanaru Taka
Links: Zatôichi on the IMDb, Official site, Buy on DVD, Buy the Soundtrack
Genre: Action

This movie gets: 7.00 (1 rating)
nofreelist.com Ranking: not yet ranked (awaiting 2 ratings)

Zatôichi (2003) is also mentioned in pearly's review of The Princess Blade (2001).

"A long, long time ago..." - a review by pearly

In Japan in the time of geishas and samurais, lives Zatôichi (Takeshi Kitano). He is a blind samurai who is a bit of a loner, and coming across a town in need of help, he acts as the hand of morality, dealing with dodgy businessmen ripping off the poor in the community, and worse. He's kinda like the human equivalent of Lassie (1994).

Set around the same time and on the same topic as Seven Samurai (1954), it is difficult not to compare the two. Although I have had fairly little exposure to samurai films, I suspect the comparison is not too far off track, given that Seven Samurai is a classic of the genre. Zatôichi probably isn't as much of a classic, however, it is still really enjoyable.

Zatôichi befriends O-Ume (Michiyo Ookusu) early in the film, and she tells him a sad tale about her nephew, Shinkichi (Gadarukanaru Taka), who is addicted to gambling. Perhaps to help her out in repayment for allowing him to stay with her, Zatôichi tracks down Shinkichi, and helps him out. Along the way, they meet up with two geishas, O-Sei (Daigorô Tachibana) and O-Kinu (Yuuko Daike) who have been wronged by the bad element in the town, and are seeking revenge. Joining forces, they go along their merry way, trying to rid the town of the baddies.

One of my favourite things about this film were the three asides involving the dancing farmers. Randomly during the film, the action would shift from Zatôichi and co. to the dancing farmers, who would be hoeing ground or something similar, but would be doing so in a rhythmic fashion - kinda like the Japanese version of Pulse: A Stomp Odyssey (2002), but a bit more subtle. Heaps of fun, and an interesting way to break up the action a bit.

Apart from this, it's mostly pretty straight-forward larger-than-life super samurai powers, with much slicing off of limbs, and fake blood splatter. The story running through the whole thing is pretty interesting: I enjoyed the geisha sub-plot especially. There is a fair bit of humour running through the film as well, which makes for a pleasant change of pace from the samurai sword action. With Zatôichi, Kitano has created quite a hero. Enjoyable, but not a personal favourite of mine.

pearly gives this movie 7 out of 10.
Review created on Wed 29 Sep 2004

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