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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Quick Reviews!
As a lover of all things Japanese, originating from a childhood love of martial arts and monster movies, I am perhaps slightly biased when it comes to reviewing the latest Samurai movie. There have been quite a few good samurai movies in recent years, and tonnes of bad ones but possibly the best was Takeshi Kitano's Zatoichi- the leatest in a long line of films based on...
Published on 17 Sep 2009 by carlosnightman

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars a beautiful but flawed reimagining
A reimagining of the Zatoichi films, Ichi takes the blind masseuse swordsman and replaces him with Ichi, a Goze - or blind wandering musician - swordswoman played by Haruka Ayase. As the film goes on it becomes clear that the original Zatoichi was her mentor and/or father, though he is not mentioned by name.

She saves a samurai, Toma Fuhihira (Takao Osawa), who...
Published on 22 Aug 2009 by Taliesin_ttlg


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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Quick Reviews!, 17 Sep 2009
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This review is from: Ichi [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
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As a lover of all things Japanese, originating from a childhood love of martial arts and monster movies, I am perhaps slightly biased when it comes to reviewing the latest Samurai movie. There have been quite a few good samurai movies in recent years, and tonnes of bad ones but possibly the best was Takeshi Kitano's Zatoichi- the leatest in a long line of films based on the legend of the blind samurai. With Kitano's trademark style of soft contemplation followed by sudden quick blasts of violence and his unique and quirky take on the character, it was a big hit. With Ichi the legend continues, albeit from a different branch on the story tree. Instead of the silent man of legend we have a vibrant young lady (perhaprs having more in common with the Crimson Bat series) taking over the walking stick, continuing the recent trend of female led sword movies- Shinobi, Shadowless Sword, even Kill Bill. Our heroine is no less deadly though and she soon cuts her way through the cast with beautiful precision.

After an exiting introduction we are treated to the stunning scenary, period clothing and sets, and slow pace we would expect from this type of film. Those unfamiliar and expecting an all out action film may be soon disappointed. There is plenty of character building and story to squeeze in around the action, and there is none of the gore of Lady Snowblood, none of the fancy stringwork of Hero. If you're a fan of The Hidden Blade, Twilight Samurai etc you'll be right at home here. Ayase's Ichi is torn by horrible past events and she conveys both the sadness and violent eruptions of her character well, without resorting to sentiment or over the top shrieking. Takao Osawa also does well as Toma, the bumbling Samurai Ichi bumps into and travels with. The rest of the cast are fine, either bad guys there to be killed or higher grade bad guys ready to expolit. Ichi wants to find the man who trained her, but reluctantly gets drawn into a Yojimbo style war between two gangs. Can she find the man she is searching for, and will it help her move on from her past?

The film lacks the high budget of some other films and doesn't quite have the techincal quality that such financial backing brings. This is largely irrelevant though as the Director makes admirable use of what he has. It is an interesting take on an age old story and packs more of an emotional punch than more recent versions.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Zatoichi - The Next Generation, 23 Aug 2009
By 
Sam Woodward (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ichi [Blu-ray] [2008] (Blu-ray)
"Beware. I never know what I'll cut down. I cannot see."

Fans of Samurai flicks will be more than familiar with Zatoichi, the legendary blind swordsman portrayed in over 30 films & several TV series. Ichi (not to be confused with Takashi Miike's sadistic 'Ichi The Killer') is his female student, who is searching for her master - but like her predecessor, it isn't long before she's up to her armpits in blokes waving sharp impliments at her.

When cowardly samurai Toma (Takao Osawa, star of 'Aragami') defends her against the local lowlifes, it is Ichi who ends up having to save HIM. But the local tonwsfolk assume Toma must have killed them all single-handed, he is hailed as a hero & expected to finish off the rest of the bandit gang.

The films' pace is slightly too leisurely in places, as the numerous supporting characters are fleshed out. Yet conversely, it features some incredible action scenes & beautiful cinematography. Haruka Ayase was apparently a controversial casting choice but in my view, is perfect for the role - Ichi is a violent force of nature in the style of 'Lone Wolf' Oogami Itto, with the detached serenity of a Buddha statue, which Ayase combines with an understated vulnerability. This gives an interesting new dimension for the Zatoichi franchise to explore - and let's face it, it needs one, having been flogged to death over the decades. I look forward to the sequels.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful but bloody, 25 Oct 2009
By 
A. Skudder (Crawley, West Sussex) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ichi [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
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Ichi is a beautifully-shot film, with lush Japanese scenery and snowscapes, fabulous costumes and a striking main set. It is not a martial arts film as such: there are some swordfights but they are mostly over very quickly and much of the running time is taken up with the story.

Apart from the fights, the pace of the film is slow - like American movies used to be in the late 60's and 70's - which is a bit of a relief from the lightning fast edits of a lot of current Hollywood films.

All the way through the film I kept feeling that it was really a traditional western, dressed up in Japanese clothes and sent back a century or so in time. The main action takes place in a small town that even looks a lot like the scene of High Noon or any number of other cowboy films. There is a gang of bandits living inthe hills nearby who are terrorising the town - a typical western scenario.

Replace six-gun shoot-outs with samurai sword fights and this could be a Peckinpah film, right down to the slow motion blood fountains when Ichi get going with her sword. There is even an OK Corral-style showdown at the end when the outlaws and townsfolk face each other in the main street.

Altogether a very watchable film, and gorgeous to look at - unless you are averse to sub-titles.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ichi feet? Not whilst watching this gem!, 23 Aug 2009
This review is from: Ichi [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
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I approached this film with some trepidation: Reading the blurb on the case I expected a Hidden Crouching Dagger House of Flying Tiger Dragons type of movie. What I got was an extraordinarily well crafted, well written film showing gifted acting, and production values which have long been forgotten by Hollywood. Nobody leaps thirty feet into the air, or performs outrageously unfeasible acts which are not only physically impossible but would cause Newton to completely revise his laws (If that's entertainment I'll take the Iron Maiden anyday - but I digress). This is a film which could have been directed by the great Akira Kurosawa himself.

The two leading characters are each searching for answers and fighting their inner demons ( An allegory of life itself?), their chance encounter and interaction lead to an epiphany at the story's climax. 'Ichi' (Sensitively played by the stunningly beautiful Haruka Ayase) is an itinerant minstrel with an inability, born of bitter experience, to become involved with others, which only serves to deepen her sense of melancholy. 'Toma' (Equally well played with an instinct for this particular characterisation by Takao Asawa) is the vainglorious,bombastic, dispossessed Samurai with an underlying diffidence also born of past experience. Both are well served by the supporting cast, such characters as 'Banki' could easily have been so badly played as to descend into caricature and parody, that this did not happen is a tribute to all involved with the making of this film.

There is an air of poignancy throughout the film created not only by the principal players, but also by the magnificent scenery; this poignancy is strengthened by the sensitive and, in parts, delicate score.

Don't not buy this film if you're looking for the usual martial arts tripe, do buy it if you want a finely crafted, well directed, well produced, well acted minor work of art in a perfect setting.

Maudlin? No! Mawkish? No! Poignant? Absolutely, and yet also, inspiring. Consider it a cinematic equivalent of a netsuke, exquisitely carved and pleasing to look at!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved it, Great Blu Ray, 7 April 2010
By 
This review is from: Ichi [Blu-ray] [2008] (Blu-ray)
Well I for one loved it. Not perfect but the difference with this one compared to other 'draw - slash' movies is this one had emotions and often touching. A must for Zatoichi fans. The Blu Ray was great no complaints. Lack of extras a drawback but will still award a liberal 5 star. To me its a keeper, price is good to.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ichi, Blu-Ray, 26 Sep 2009
By 
Spider Monkey (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ichi [Blu-ray] [2008] (Blu-ray)
`Ichi' is a modern take on the Zatoichi theme and whilst not bad, doesn't quite live up to it's predecessor. The whole film has a slightly `made for TV' quality about it, I can't put my finger on it but it's not as polished as it could be and the filming style seems more suited to a TV drama. There are beautiful set pieces, locations and costumes and these are the real highlights of the film. It has to be said that this film doesn't have the best acting skills in it, but the direction more than makes up for this with some excellently framed shots. The close ups of various natural scenes (Japanese maple leaves and pond fish for example) are stunning in their simplicity. The fight scenes are well choreographed and whilst graphic in places they aren't as excessive as some other films I've seen or compared to the regular gore fest films that come out of Hollywood these days. The storyline is fairy engaging and kept me watching until the end, although I'm not sure how soon I'll be re-watching this film, it may be a one watch wonder. If you like the Zatoichi film and Japanese dramas in general then this will right up your street and is well worth considering.

Feel free to check out my blog which can be found on my profile page.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ichi not so scratchy, 23 Aug 2009
This review is from: Ichi [Blu-ray] [2008] (Blu-ray)
This re-imagining of the legendary Zatoichi character, immortalized in countless films & T.V. shows, is a well acted, beautifully shot movie. Hakura Ayase is the eponimous Ichi, a blind, wandering goze minstrel, who happens to be an expert with the sword. Expelled from her troupe for losing her virginity, she travels from town to town in search of the blind swordsman who she thinks may be her father. There are no prizes for believing this may be the great Zatoichi himself. Her journey is interrupted when she has to save an incompetent samurai Toma (Takao Osawa)from a group of murderous bandits. The nearby townsfolk unable to believe that a blind slip of a girl could have killed them, appoint Toma as their protector against the local Yakuza overlord, the psychotic Banki (Shidou Nakamura). Traumatised by a childhood accident when he accidentally blinded his mother while practising his swordsmanship, Toma cannot even draw his sword, so how is he to save the town & his reputation against the monsterous Banki & his bloodthirsty gang? The ravishingly beautiful Hakura Ayase makes a wonderful Ichi, lithe & graceful in the balletic & bloody fight sequences, as well as showing great emotional depth to her acting. The movie is a visual treat, with wintery landscapes & warm summer lushness providing countless striking images. The numerous fight scenes are exciting & originally handled, with the camera circling & cutting in & out of the action, giving a sharp, visceral experience. The plot, while a simple one, is remarkably effective & well written, gradually exposing Ichi`s & Toma`s inner demons & fears, which ultimately bring them together. Ichi comes with a fine Blu-ray picture, providing superb detail & colour saturation which cannot be faulted. However, there are no extras, which is a disappointment, considering this is such an emotionally engaging, superbly acted & beautifully shot movie. Highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ichi the singing, slicing and dicing minstrel..., 26 Aug 2009
By 
Milt Ingarfield "milt_fm" (Arbroath, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ichi [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
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Having never seen any of the other "Zatoichi" films I came to this movie without any preconceptions, I sat down to watch this movie without any idea what to expect, from what I can gather the hero is normally male, in this version of the story the main character is female and very easy on the eye.

The action is set during the Edo period in Japan; it recreates the feel of the time with a great deal of ease looking very authentic to my eyes and at the same time looking very elegant.

The part of the story I liked was how the male lead that can't draw his sword and is saved by Ichi and because of this event he is hired by the local Yakuza, to protect their village from the bandits preying on them and the townsfolk.
This movie is in Japanese with 5.1 surround sound with English subtitles that you don't have to put on.

The action is pretty intense, gory and very stylish this title must have just barely got its "15" classification with that said all the violence doesn't feel like it was done just for effect but is needed for the plot, I found this film very entertaining and enjoyable...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ichi, 27 Aug 2009
This review is from: Ichi [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
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Before Ichi the only films of this ilk that I had seen were Crouching Tiger and House of Flying Daggers so I wasn't really sure what to expect from this especially as I hadn't seen Zatoichi but I was intrigued by the blurb so decided to give it a go. What a good move! This is a lovely film with beautiful scenery, good acting and decent music. The plot follows the eponymous Ichi, a blind musician with deadly swordsmanship, as she travels through Japan searching for the man who trained her. In one town she becomes involved with battling rival gangs when she discovers one has information that will aid her search.

Despite the fast pace of the film I was still able to keep up with the English subtitles without problem and really enjoyed dipping into this genre.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good - but probably not for everyone, 27 Aug 2009
By 
M. D. Harris (Leicester, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ichi [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
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A quick heads up: First, this is not a martial arts film. Yes, there are sword fights, but this is no Crouching Tiger sword play extravaganza. Secondly there are subtitles - should such things bother you.

Having established that no one speaks English and that they do not spend the whole film trying to beat the crap out of each other, I can say I was pleasantly surprised by this film.

While the story line is certainly not new (a blind minstrel/expert swords-woman looking for her former teacher and a bumbling Samurai mistaken as deadly warrior get mixed up with rival gangs) it does have decent pacing, so often missing in far eastern films and a winning performance by the stunningly pretty Haruka Ayase as blind minstrel Ichi make up for any unoriginality in the plot.

It's not all roses though, some of the other performances are a bit over the top with the villain of the piece bordering on pantomime at times and it would seem the budget would not stretch to more than a few locations and a couple of dozen extras.

Compared to a western block buster Ichi will seem slight and lacking in action for most mainstream viewers, but those with a fondness for eastern cinema may well find a couple of hours spent with this movie a rewarding experience.
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Ichi [Blu-ray] [2008]
Ichi [Blu-ray] [2008] by Fumihiko Sori (Blu-ray - 2009)
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