Zatoichi was a character in a series of 26 Japanese films (released between 1962 and 1989) that starred Shintaro Katsu. If you like Samurai movies, then you will love Zatoichi (even though he is not Samurai, he certainly kills a lot of Samurai with his flashing cane sword). This DVD set includes 7 of the 26 Zatoichi films. This is a really low price for seven movies. Shintaro Katsu was brilliant in these movies.
This film series is set in Feudal Japan. Zatoichi, the main character, is a blind swordsman who wanders the country living hand to mouth by giving massages (Zato can mean masseur or blind man), administering acupuncture, gambling, and singing. In every Zatoichi film, he ends up protecting the weak and defenseless from bullies, gangsters, and scoundrels - - - initially with wit and charm, but inevitably with his flashing cane sword. Ichi routinely manages to kill several dozen heavily-armed Yakuza per film. While Zatoichi may sound like a homicidal maniac, he is really quite charming - - - and you will find yourself cheering for him.
The Zatoichi films totally revolutionized the martial arts film industry in Hong Kong. After the producers and directors in Hong Kong saw the first Zatoichi film, they immediately ramped up the realism of their films.
Thanks to this DVD set and to "Samurai Saturday" on the International Film Channel (IFC), I have seen every Zatoichi film except for Zatoichi #14. I was very, very happy when Amazon offered this DVD boxed set, since I had never before seen any of the included movies. All of the Zatoichi films may be watched independently; sometimes, however, references are made to events in earlier films. You do not need to watch any of the earlier films to completely understand and thoroughly enjoy the seven films in this boxed set.
The first two films of the series are in black and white, the rest are in color. All of the films in the DVD set are in color and have excellent English subtitles.
The 26 Zatoichi films (** next to films in this DVD boxed set):
1. The Tale of Zatoichi, 1962
2. The Tale of Zatoichi Continues, 1962
3. New Tale of Zatoichi, 1963
4. Zatoichi The Fugitive, 1963
5. Zatoichi on the Road, 1963
6. Zatoichi and the Chest of Gold, 1964
7. Zatoichi's Flashing Sword, 1964
8. Fight, Zatoichi, Fight, 1964
9. Adventures of Zatoichi, 1964
10. Zatoichi's Revenge, 1965
11. Zatoichi and the Doomed Man, 1965
12. Zatoichi and the Chess Expert, 1965
13. Zatoichi's Vengeance, 1966
14. Zatoichi's Pilgrimage, 1966
15. Zatoichi's Cane Sword, 1967
** 16. Zatoichi the Outlaw, 1967
17. Zatoichi Challenged, 1967
18. Zatoichi and the Fugitives, 1968
19. Samaritan Zatoichi, 1968
** 20. Zatoichi and Yojimbo, 1970
** 21. Zatoichi, The Festival Of Fire, 1970
** 22. Zatoichi Meets the One Armed Swordsman, 1971
** 23. Zatoichi at Large, 1972
** 24. Zatoichi in Desperation, 1972
** 25. Zatoichi's Conspiracy, 1973
26. Zatoichi the Blind Swordsman, 1989