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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful and brilliant.
Zatoichi revolves around the character of Ichi, an unassuming travelling blind masseur, who despite being blind happens to be a master swordsman. With a blade concealed within his walking cane he uses his finely tuned senses of hearing and smell to guide him in his battles.
On his travels Ichi enters a town in which several gangs are involved in a power struggle to...
Published on 4 July 2010 by Ernie

versus
5 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nice film, shame about the CGI.
"Beat" Takeshi, is best known for his violent, and sometimes darkly comic gangster films. So Zatoichi may seem a surprising choice for him. Here the "Beat" plays a blind masseur who just happens to be nothing short of an artist with a samurai sword.
What sets this film apart from other Takeshi films (apart from the fact that it is a period piece) is his approach to...
Published on 3 Sep 2004 by Mr. B. J. Roberts


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful and brilliant., 4 July 2010
By 
Ernie (Kent) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Zatoichi [2004] [DVD] (DVD)
Zatoichi revolves around the character of Ichi, an unassuming travelling blind masseur, who despite being blind happens to be a master swordsman. With a blade concealed within his walking cane he uses his finely tuned senses of hearing and smell to guide him in his battles.
On his travels Ichi enters a town in which several gangs are involved in a power struggle to take control of the town and its population. One gang eventually gains the upper hand and soon makes life a living hell for the locals. When Ichi befriends a local woman and her nephew they reveal the network of crime and corruption that plague their lives, he then sets out to deal justice and bring harmony back to the town.
Overall, 'Zatoichi' is a great Japanese period piece that seamlessly mixes action, drama, comedy and some clever special effects. Be warned though, it's not a film for the faint-hearted, the violence and gore levels are pretty high with blood nearly flying off the screen, although like Tarantino's 'Kill Bill', director Takeshi Kitano cleverly manages to create something artistically beautiful out of the blood and carnage.
Exciting, funny, poignant, and beautiful to watch, highly recommended for anyone who enjoys Asian cinema.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Un"beat"able., 28 Jan 2011
By 
Mark G. (East Anglia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Zatoichi [2004] [DVD] (DVD)
The story revolves around numerous characters as their stories overlap and intertwine with one another. The main character, played brilliantly by Kitano is a blind masseur who wanders from town to town. Of course there is more to him than that as the opening sequence reveals as we see that this character that resembles a blind beggar, is in fact a master swordsman.

As he is passing through a small town he hears people talking about the Ginzo gang, who's boss seeks to wipe out all the other gangs in the area placing them as the top dogs.
There is also a ronin who is currently seeking work as a bodyguard, although the term bodyguard appears to go hand in hand with the word assassin.
Then there are 2 geisha's who are looking for the people responsible for the death of their family.
Finally the other main players are a hard workng farmer and her gambling addicted nephew.

The characters are well portrayed and their stories weave together nicely without any confusion or too much exposition. We are treated to a few glimpses from these characters pasts which are kept fairly brief, enabling the story to move along at a nice pace.

The film looks great and is well shot, as is to be expected with Takeshi Kitano at the helm. The sword play is kept short without getting overly fanciful as is the trend these days, the characters defeating their enemies with one quick, well placed blow.
There are some nice moments of humour throughout that work well. A good example being, how do you disguise a blind man? Draw some eyes on his eyelids.

Special mention has to go to the musical score as there are some very clever moments such as at the start of the movie were the sound of the farmers digging in the fields is woven into the music.

A great movie that fans Kitano or samurai movies should enjoy.
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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great fun and back to form, 21 Jun 2004
This review is from: Zatoichi [2004] [DVD] (DVD)
I'm a huge fan of Takeshi Kitano's films in which the main characters, for the most part, are modern day gangsters or people invloved with gangsters. His newest film Zatoichi however is a period piece set in feudal Japan and follows the adventures of a blind masseur who also happens to be a highly skilled swordsman. The character of Zatoichi is pretty famous in Japan and there are loads of films featuring the character - I guess in the same way that the Chinese folk hero Wong Fei Hung has been portrayed in over a hundred Hong Kong films, though I don't think Zatoichi was a real person. So, samurai sword film by Kitano. Joy!
Zatoichi is excellent and more light hearted than expected. It contains Kitano's own brand of humour and swift violence, has some great characters and an involving and sometimes poignant story - the geisha twins' tale of lost innocence comes to mind here. He's also added some really neat touches to the sound; the scenes where Zatoichi passes workers in the field and where a house is being built are actually percussive pieces which slowly build up layer by layer until its becomes obvious your listening to music. It might seem a lttle odd in description but it sits well in the overall film. When I first saw these scenes I thought they must be an attempt to get inside Zatoichi's world; he can only hear after all and Zatoichi's finding of rythm and music in everyday sounds might explain his superhuman martial skills. After seeing the ending however, I'm not so sure.
Kitano plays the lead really well (with a Gazza haircut) and his reserved style of acting is ideally suited. He adds a subtle kindliness to the role and acts the "doddery old blind man" quite convincingly. The fighting scenes see him shift instantly into a hyper-alert, super-deadly swordsman and back again in the space of a few seconds (think Yoda in Attack of the Clones). He's also tricky much like Kurosawa/Mifune's lone samurai in Yojimbo and Sanjuro. It reminds me alot of those films actually - because of the setting (village with yakuza), the humour and the lead characters - but it stands out as firmly unique because of Kitano's inspired direction and his homage to the genre.
The fights themselves are marvelous and two stand out as particularly cool. Swordplay in some martial arts films get lost in themselves with just slashing noises and facial close-ups. Thankfully Kitano mixes up the long, wide and close shots and we're treated to nice range of filming styles during the duelling and brawling sequences with some inspired swordplay. Also to be thankful for is the absence of wild acrobatics which, whilst I enjoy them in kung-fu flicks, would have been bad for this film.
The other main badass in the plot - an ambiguous good/bad guy - is pretty deadly too. Like most of the other main characters he has his own personal dilemas to contend with (killing to pay for his sister's medicine) and this is portrayed really well. He should have his own movie. Other memorable characters include the chubby, naked samurai wannabe charging round and round the house all day and the two murderous geishas. The antics of the main characters during the middle of the film reminded me fondly of the scenes in Sonatine where the gangsters kill time whilst hiding out in the beach house.
This film is well polished, more than his others, and is probably one of his most 'approachable'. Its easily his best film since Hana-bi although the genres are not really comparable.
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Only one country makes truly great Samurai films, 27 July 2004
By 
This review is from: Zatoichi [2004] [DVD] (DVD)
Unlike other samurai/Japanese style films made recently *cough Kill Bill cough Last Samurai cough* Zatoichi hits the target on every level.
While watching the others I couldn't help but feel conspicious "Look at me, I'm fashionable watching western films about Samurai" but with Zatoichi there's none of this feeling.
Kitano's directing style is straight down the line, totally unpretentious.
Yes it's 'arty'. It's a foreign language film with subtitles which'll put some people off within the first two minutes.
Kitano's style of long lingering unmoving shots has been curbed here, the man himself states it's to make a more mainstream film, to make use of more modern film-making styles. Good on him.
The plot is a classic Japanese period plot; A town is being run by an underhand and violent Yakuza gang, a hero enters the town, defeats the gang and gets a final showdown against the tough bad guy (in this case Tadanobu Asano (Ichii The Killer) perfectly cast as the mighty no-nosense ronin Hattori.
Kitano himself plays the blind masseur Zatoichi who turns out to be incredibly skilled with a blade. Soon Zatoichi is befriended by a lovely middle-aged lady, her nephew (the no-good gambler with a heart of gold) and two geishas with a sad and bloody past.
The pretty graphic violence (swordplay aplenty)is offset by a lot of fantastic visual and verbal humour and a magnificent soundtrack with dance finale.
Don't expect any clashing of swords though, Kitano was determined to make the fighting as realistic as possible, meaning fights are short and bloody affairs, perfectly handled by actors and direction alike.
Kitano's acting performance is spot-on as the chuckling, shuffling friendly masseur, turned death-bringer when required. He makes an intensely likeable main character while uttering very few words throughout.
Including nods to past Japanese classics (including Kurusawa's Seven Samurai - fighting in the rain with a blue sky), Kitano rightly won the Best Director at the Venice Film festival in 2003.
This is his best film to date and a welcome forray away from present day Yakuza.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A samurai movie to get your feet tapping, 31 Dec 2004
By 
Budge Burgess (Troon, Scotland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Zatoichi [2004] [DVD] (DVD)
A film about loss. Zatoichi is a blind samurai roaming the country in the guise of a masseur, the cane with which he taps his way along acting as the scabbard to a razor sharp sword. In this film, we have him meeting up with a vicious gang of cutthroats who run a protection racket in a village; they've hired a ronin, a masterless samurai, who quickly disposes of the rival gang, single-handed. He recognises the skill of the blind Zatoichi. Sooner or later they must confront one another. The ronin has lost his honour, his wife has lost her health.
Enter a wandering pair of geishas, two young women who have lost both their childhood and their innocence. They are intent on revenge and are hunting down people who have wronged them. And then there's the gambler, who loses everything in the gaming room, including his self-respect ... until Zatoichi comes along.
It's a beautifully enigmatic plot, with lots of tributes to Kurosawa's samurai epics - especially Yojimba. All the characters suffer loss - of sight, of identity, of family, home, their mind ... and, of course, life. The body count is huge, without the slaughter becoming too visceral or gory. The action sequences are beautifully choreographed and the soundtrack wonderfully syncopated - watch out for the rhythm sections ... and the climactic tap dancing scene! And throughout, while the tension is built, stage by stage, there are visual and audio gags to make you laugh out loud.
This is a beautifully observed and well directed movie, with characters who'll capture your attention and your emotion, and a well-paced plot which will keep you glued to the screen.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kitano back to his very best., 28 May 2004
By 
Mr. Od Smith "d2kvirus" (Coulsdon, Surrey) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Zatoichi [2004] [DVD] (DVD)
So, after the disappointment of Dolls (best described as "dull", "overlong", and "nothing much happens"), it's good to see that Takeshi Kitano is back to his best. No, not Brother best, I'm talking about his Sonatine best.
OK, so some people will be put off at seeing "Beat" without his trademark Yakuza garb, but that's just plain daft. Mostly because we have a beautifully crafted piece of genius on display, which uses many of the usual Kitano flourishes and themes, which work even better in the samurai setting than they would appear at first glance.
Maybe I came into the material cold, as I have never watched the original Zatoichi films, but that isn't an issue, as the plot is neatly outlined from the beginning, so viewers won't be alienated by the assumption they know the material (like the Lord of the Rings sequels did). And, as usual with Kitano, he allows the characters time to develop onscreen and connect with an audience, so you know what makes them tick. This also serves the purpose of furthering the plot, as all the characters are deeply involved at some point, as they are all intricate to developments.
Of course, as usual, the plot hangs around Kitano, playing the eponymous blind swordsman with his usual blend of style, wit, and effortless cool. However, he also portrays the pain of being blinded as part of the character, which all works well with the plot strands and, of course, the swordfights.
Yes, the swordfights. Forget (please, just forget) Kill Bill, here we have true mastery of a katana sword in swift, brutal encounters that literally end in an instant - with the exception of the Seven Samurai inspired fight towards the end - and are all the more effective realistic for it. OK, so the CGI blood looks fake, but that's his idea anyway - rather than make another Babycart, he wanted artistic flows of blood, which most critics didn't pick up on.
Yet there's far more than a few swordfights - there's plenty of humour involved (especially the samurai training sequence), with absurd characterisation and sequences that thread the plot together, and a superb dance sequence to head off the film in grand style.
In short, this is one fantastic achievement from one of the very best directors around. Everyone should watch it if they get the opportunity. If they don't, they should make one.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just brilliant., 28 April 2008
By 
This review is from: Zatoichi [2004] [DVD] (DVD)
I have watched this film SO many times cinema/at home that i'm staggered that it continues to give me goosepimples at every viewing. Look out for the scenes in the gambing dens, paddy fields and the closing credits ... marvellous. i love it.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars bloody amazing, 25 May 2004
This review is from: Zatoichi [2004] [DVD] (DVD)
I was blown away when I saw this film. Action, drama, comedy and some utterly compelling characters make this an outstanding piece of work. The fight scenes are some of the best around and Zatoichi is almost indestructible. The film has its tense moments (the lead up to his final showdown with "the bodyguard" is atmospheric to say the least) but this is offset by well-timed humour. The script is good and there is a great storyline which makes this a superior samurai film. If you didn't get a chance to see this at the cinema then take the chance to check it out on its release. Highly entertaining and definitely worth watching.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable and smart, 3 July 2006
By 
J. Delaney (London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Zatoichi [2004] [DVD] (DVD)
I decided to purchase this film because of the previous work(the teacher of Battle Royale was something special) of Takeshi Kitano, and so was expecting at least a half-entertaining movie with some nice action scenes. It was far better than I expected.
Darkly funny in some places, the acting is very good, especially Kitano's Zatoichi, and there are a few clever twists and turns in a story that flows well.
The portrayal of the ronin is done particularly well, the motives for peoples' actions are explained so it does not look like people are randomly wandering around killing each other. The action, and there is some action, is short, sharp, and quite realistic: there are no drawn half hour out battle-scenes here.
Overall, it is a solid, very enjoyable film that would appeal to eastern film-lovers and naive newbies all the same.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent reimagining of the classic 'Blind Swordsman' epics, 16 Aug 2014
By 
RazorGrrl (Greater Manchester) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Zatoichi [2004] [DVD] (DVD)
Stunning, brilliant, dazzling, funny, poignant, beautiful, glorious, uplifting...phew, running out if adjectives. There's not enough superlatives in the thesaurus to describe how wonderful this film is.

This is undoubtedly one of Hus very best, in my opionion, as a big Takeshi Kitano fan.
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Zatoichi [2004] [DVD]
Zatoichi [2004] [DVD] by 'Beat' Takeshi Kitano (DVD - 2004)
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