November 10, 20058:30pm

Zatoichi is a blind traveller who makes his living as a gambler and masseur.  But behind this lowly façade is a master swordsman blessed with lightening-fast skill and precision. The eponymous anti-hero wanders into a mountain village controlled by ruthless gang-leader Ginzo.  Zatoichi hears the story of two geishas whose parents were murdered by the Ginzo gang and decides to avenge them.

Director, writer and actor ‘Beat’ Takeshi Kitano, mostly plays modern tough guys, but in this film he takes on the role of nineteenth century blind swordsman Zatoichi, one of the most popular characters in Japanese film and television. He redefines Zatoichi bringing a powerful persona to the normally superficial treatment of the role.

While in many hands a conventional martial arts plot would unfold, Kitano develops the story with humour, quirkiness and a distinctive style of pace and timing. Sudden bursts of action are balanced by visual and musical artistic flourishes: special effect blood splashes on grey stone; hoes strike the ground in a rhythm that the soundtrack syncopates with music. And then there’s the controversial stomp/tap dance finale.

‘Remarkably, some of the people I saw the movie with (at two different viewings) came out complaining, as if there were a rigid template for action movies and Kitano had broken the rules. I was surprised and grateful … It’s the kind of film I more and more find myself seeking out, a film that seems alive in the sense that it appears to have free will.’ Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

Zatoichi, the blind samurai goes to the aid of two geishas who want to avenge their parent’s murder. Great martial arts entertainment, stunning cinematography _ watch and learn, Quentin! ‘Kitano unfolds his plot with skill and much humour.’ Philip French, The Observer.

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Film Information
Release year: 2003
Running time:   116 mins
Directed by: Takeshi Kitano
Language: Japanese
Country: Japan
Classification: 18
Genre: Drama
Starring: Takeshi Kitano,
Tadanobu Asano,
Yui Natsukawa

Venice Silver Lion,
Toronto People’s Choice Audience Award

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