Anthony's Film Review
Zatoichi delivers entertaining stylized action set in a historical backdrop...
Zatoichi is a fictional character portrayed in a series of films and TV shows in Japan. Years later, the saga was remade into the 2003 film Zatoichi, starring and directed by Takeshi Kitano. The reason I was interested in seeing this movie was not because I was familiar with the series. In fact, I knew very little about the film and television culture of Japan. However, I do enjoy martial arts films, and I thought it would be interesting to see how it's done in the Land of the Rising Sun.
Keep in mind that Zatoichi is a swordsman, but not necessarily a samurai warrior. In fact, he earns money as a masseur. He also happens to be blind, but don't let that fool you into assuming that he cannot defend himself. When he does find himself in a dangerous situation, he whips out his cane, pulls out a sword hidden inside, and makes his kill. Like any blind person, Zatoichi relies on his other senses and does so very well.
The story in this movie is pretty simple. Zatoichi wanders into a town and meets several characters, including two girls who seek revenge for their murdered family. He also spends some time providing massages and enjoying himself in gambling parlors. The town, however, is run by local gangs, who soon become Zatoichi's adversaries. All of this sets the stage for the film's action sequences, which are just as engrossing as the plot.
The violence in this movie takes a realistic and stylistic approach. The motions with sword blades are swift. When they do strike flesh, blood spurts out from the wound in a manner that is clearly artificial but still aesthetically pleasing. The most amusing part is the way Zatoichi fights. He does it with his eyes closed and gets the duel over with as soon as possible. In one scene, he is ambushed by two men and scares them off in less than five seconds.
Zatoichi is quite fun if you like this kind of action movie. Even then, it's not what you would call a very dark movie. There were some moments that actually made me smile. One scene involves a long continuous shot of farmers plowing a field, and their rhythm almost creates music. Speaking of which, there is a nice dance sequence in which most of the characters participate. And when it's all over, Zatoichi says his interestingly memorable final line: "Even with my eyes wide open, I can't see a thing."
For more information about Zatoichi, visit the Internet Movie Database.