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ICHI: The Movie

74 customer reviews

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(Dec 22, 2009)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Ichi honors the classic tale of the blind samurai while casting the legend in breathtaking new light. In a role traditionally played by men, award-winning actress Haruka Ayase is both tender and brutal.

Beautiful Ichi wanders blindly from village to village, searching for the sightless swordsman who long ago taught her to kill. Her technique is exquisite and explosive, her defenses as impenetrable as the darkness in which she moves. Many along her solitary path are touched – some by the sound of her delicate music, others by the edge of her lethal blade.

This visually stunning Japanese swordplay drama is an attempt at revising the venerable and exciting Zatoichi films and television series, which concern a blind masseur whose lowbrow nature concealed his deadly prowess with a blade. Here, the sightless hero is a woman (Ayase Haruka) in search of another blind man (the original Zatoichi, it is assumed) who taught her to defend herself before disappearing from her life. Unfortunately, the gender switch is the only real deviation from the tried and true Zatoichi format, which star and occasional director Shintaro Katsu perfected in 26 films and a television series between 1962 and 1989. Takeshi Kitano starred in and directed a more adventurous update in 2003 (complete with a musical number), so while Ichi is largely superfluous, it does feature a fine performance by Haruka, some lovely photography, and muscular and bloody combat choreographed by Kuze Hiroshi, who worked on several films for Akira Kurosawa. The DVD includes only a trailer for supplemental features. --Paul Gaita

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Takao Osawa, Shido Nakamura, Haruka Ayase
  • Directors: Fumihiko Sori
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Widescreen, Subtitled
  • Language: Japanese, English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Funimation
  • DVD Release Date: December 22, 2009
  • Run Time: 120 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (74 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #47,801 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "ICHI: The Movie" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

48 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Ian Williams on October 21, 2009
Format: DVD
Historical samurai dramas are the Japanese equivalent of the Western except that they still maintain their credibility. This is a reworking of the popular Zatoichi the blinds swordsman series, with a blind female musician trying to track down the person who may or may not be Zatoichi and who may or may not be her father.

I like the structure as more and more is revealed about the two main characters over the course of the film through the use of flashbacks which can, early on, sometimes be misleading. Toma, the samurai whom Ichi protects, at first appears to be nothing more than a coward but he is more than that and there are resonances which I don't want to spoil. The two leads are absolutely fine in their roles, the cute kid who helps Ichi is bearable, but the villains tend to be over the top. In particular the chief bad guy comes over like a psycho samurai Quentin Tarantino, whom he rather resembles.

It's attractively photographed with several striking snow scenes. There is a strong emotional content and lots of brooding silences, profundities, and deep thoughts -this is a samurai movie after all. There's even more blood, lashings and lashings of it as our heroine wades through the bad guys using her special backhanded slicing technique. The climax features even more blood and carnage with bad guys against good guys, hero against villain, heroine ag... ah, that would be telling.

I had a good time watching this. Sequel, please.
I have the UK edition. It's in Japanese with English subtitles. No extras apart from a trailer.
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36 of 44 people found the following review helpful By ONENEO VINE VOICE on December 22, 2009
Format: DVD
Ichi is one of those films that I've been meaning to tackle for some time. The look, the feel, the mood, and the mythological elements are all of undeniable Asian influence. Yes there are undefeatable principles at play within that span beyond the swordplay and action elements in the foreground. Before we look at the excellent philosophical tones of the picture, let's get the hard facts out of the way.

Coming in at a 120-minute runtime, Ichi consists of the full-length feature film on a single disc housed within a standard clamshell DVD case. The show wears an appropriate if not slightly conservative Restricted ® rating due to violent imagery, swordplay, digital gore and a healthy dose of character-driven drama.

Language options are typical sub & dub meaning both the original Japanese vocal track is present as well the choice of an English dub (either presented in 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound) with the option of running English subtitles available with either vocal track.

The story, which has to be watched to be fully understood (or appreciated for that matter), goes something like this: Ichi, the female incarnation of the legendary blind swordsman Zatoichi, is herself a blind master of the blade and roams about town with her shamisen (a three-stringed Japanese guitar) in a mission to locate the man who helped raise her. Alone the way she happens upon no shortage of unsavory characters (rapists, thieves, and hustlers) looking to take advantage of her.
Ichi is no pushover, as the baddies soon discover in dramatic visual style, and defends herself with spectacular swordplay time and time again.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By W. Combs on October 17, 2011
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Beautiful Actress! Great character! I very much enjoyed this movie, it had a good story line and the characters were developed enough to keep your interest, even the supporting child actor was charming, thanks!
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15 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Woopak VINE VOICE on December 11, 2009
Format: DVD
ICHI THE BLIND SWORDSWOMAN (2009) is a redux of Zatoichi, the Blind Swordsman; the classic Jidai Geki TV series. Directed by Fumihiko Sori, (Vexille, "Ping Pong"), with screenplay by Shimosawa Kan; this film switches the gender of the lead character, has significant improvements but it also lacks some of the original's strengths. "Ichi" stars beautiful Japanese bikini model/actress Ayase Haruka, and this is her follow up role to "Cyborg She" (which I will review later). The film is a departure from the stylistic style of Kitamura's "AZUMI" and is a welcome return for director Sori to his action roots after the fun-filled "Ping Pong".

Ichi (Haruka Ayase) is a beautiful, blind musician who travels this Edo period Japan with her traditional Japanese guitar and a walking stick--well, a walking stick at first impression, but inside, she hides a razor sharp katana. Ichi may be blind, but she is also a skilled swordswoman. In her quest to find the man who helped bring her up, she comes across swindlers, rapists, gangsters who want to take advantage of her disability. Ichi fights back with her remarkable sword fighting skills. Sometime during her travels, she meets up with a cowardly, dishonored samurai named Touma (Takao Osawa, Aragami) who she ends up saving from angry gamblers affiliated with the Banki Gang. The pair unwittingly become entangled in a turf war between the Shirakawa and Banki clans battling for supremacy in a small inn town of Bitou. Ichi may find the answers she is looking for in the person of the leader (played by Shido Nakamura) of the Banki group of cutthroats--and the resolution of the conflict may reveal the fate of the man she is looking for.

"Ichi" is a film that is very commercial in its appeal.
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