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The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi [Blu-ray] (2003)

Ittoku Kishibe , Beat Takeshi Kitano , Takeshi Kitano  |  R |  Blu-ray
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (116 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Ittoku Kishibe, Beat Takeshi Kitano, Akira Emoto, Michiyo Okusa, Yui Natsukawa
  • Directors: Takeshi Kitano
  • Format: Blu-ray, Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: Japanese
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Miramax Films
  • DVD Release Date: September 15, 2009
  • Run Time: 116 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (116 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B002DYKPA6
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #206,221 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Inventive and bold, this film shines with pristine picture and theater-quality sound on Blu-ray Disc™. In an empire ruled by fear, the people's only hope is the ultimate weapon: Zatoichi (Takeshi Kitano) -- a blind, nomadic samurai whose sword has made him a hero and whose courage has made him a legend. Determined to help the desperate residents of a village, Zatoichi seeks justice through revenge. It's a wildly entertaining film that's even more brilliant in Blu-ray™ High Definition.

Bonus Features Include: Behind-The-Scenes Special, Exclusive Interviews With Crew

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
50 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fine reprise with great Taiko soundtrack bonus May 25, 2005
Kitano's remake of the popular 1960's "Zatoichi-the Blind Swordsman" series (there were probably over two dozen of the original series) takes big risks but largely succeeds. Kitano is a darker, more sinister Zatoichi, and the action is a lot more Tarantino-esque. The sword action is first class but extremely violent, unlike the original series which, like the vintage Westerns, were mostly bloodless affairs. Blood squirts everywhere on the scale of "Kill Bill."

This is not the 1960s Zatoichi, who was a more light-hearted character who often avoided conflict and was even prepared to play a buffoon to avoid violence. Not so here - Kitano stalks his prey relentlessly, like the former Yakusa he was. There is a very adult story spliced in here about the two gisha runaways (one is not who s(he) appears to be) so forget about pre-teens watching this one. Unlike many Samurai period pieces, there is a plot here which is serious and sad.

The unexpected bonus to this movie is the excellent musical soundtrack consisting of Taiko drumming and dancing, well worth cranking up on a home theater system. Peasants threshing rice beat out a syncopated background to a scene, and there is a big Taiko musical send up (not too different from some of the 1960s Zatochi musical numbers) at the end.
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49 of 58 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars unforgivable butchering of a masterpiece... October 18, 2009
Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
OK, let me get this straight: the disc comes with a documentary where the director of photography EXPLICITLY details how and why the director agreed to go with a desaturated color palette for this film. Unfortunately for him, the American version of this disc simply chose to ignore their wishes, saturating the color to make the film look "normal" for American audiences (since we are a bunch of neophytes who could not understand that the color was desaturated on purpose). Joe six-pack apparently also wants films that have been oversharpened, distorting the original film look. This, and not providing us with a high quality version of the original Japanese soundtrack (naturally that is reserved for the dubbed English version, since, again, American audiences cannot bother to read subtitles or care about hearing the original language of the film) make this version of the film on Blu-Ray a slap to the face of any discerning film lover.
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stick that up yer arthouse June 23, 2004
Blending period drama, Shogun Assassin-style ultra-violence, comedy and Stomp-esque musical interludes, Takeshi Kitano's "Zatoichi" is probably the most audacious film to have come out of Japan so far this decade. Kitano - a former comedian who divides his time between gameshow appearances and producing violent gangster flicks - plays the eponymous hero, a blind but deadly samurai who gets off on gambling, chopping wood and putting wrongs to right. It's a masterful turn, and one that Kitano clearly relishes, twitching and chuckling to himself before dispatching enemies with a blink-and-you'll-miss-it flash of his blade.
The plot centres around Zatoichi's battle against the local yakuza and their formidable samurai-for-hire (Ichi the Killer's Tadonabu Asano). There are showdowns aplenty and, when they do come, they're nothing if not spectacular. Digitally-enhanced, cartoony and extremely violent (think: severed limbs and gallons of blood aplenty), the fights are likely to polarise audiences almost as much as the film's climactic, er, tapdance sequence.
In between, we get a revenge drama involving a cross-dressing geisha, a wannabe samurai who charges around wearing little but armour and what looks like a nappy, slapstick galore and numerous musical interludes. In a similar vein to Lars von Trier's Dancer in the Dark, Kitano draws his soundtrack from ambient noises - as Zatoichi wanders, sightless, through the fields, the sounds of workers' hoes builds up into a natural rhythm. It's a cute effect, and one that's deftly employed here, compounding the sense that Zatoichi - though blind - is catching something that everyone around him misses.
What impresses most is how Kitano manages to draw such unlikely elements together and, moreover, make them work so well.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sonatine November 15, 2004
By Eric
ok, to be honest, i have not yet watched Zatoichi. i'm not here to review that. judging by the reviews of the others on here, you can see that you either love it or hate it. i'm here to recommend SONATINE.

people seem to overlook Sonatine. to be honest, that was the reason i bought this DVD. Sonatine was previously not available on DVD, and you could only get it in a full screen VHS. now it's here in all it's glory. don't expect a crazy action movie like Zatoichi, Sonatine is more akin to Hana-Bi (aka Fireworks). very slow paced, but still very good. this double feature is worth it just for Sonatine.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Twisted Zatoichi <warning spoiler> May 13, 2006
This Zatoichi movie is a twist on a long line of Japanese movies about a classic hero, a blind Samuri. Everything gets a bit twisted, from the heros blond hair to the cross dressing geisha. It is every bit as bloody as noted in other reviews, however the fight scenes are wonderfully choreographed and the CG slow motion blood droplets are really actually pretty in a strange way. There are no long drawn out fight scenes,the action is abrupt and certian.

There is a special feature on the making of the movie and Kitano explains some of his ideas for the movie. My absolute favorite scene in this movie has become one of my favorite scenes in any movie, it is the showdown near the end of the movie where Zatoichi faces another skilled Samurai the other Samurai visualizes how he will defeat Zatoichi because the grip Zatoichi is using will allow him to be a fraction of a second faster, after visualizing this he looks up at Zatoichi and smiles. Zatoichi quickly changes his grip, momentarily throwing his opponent off guard, then attacks at once. He of course wins instantly.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars AVOID!
Don't watch this. It's LAME. Doesn't focus on developing characters. Doesn't round out Zatoichi. Very big disappointment. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Xela
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally on a US compatable DVD
I have been looking for this version of Zatoichi for three years and to finally find it with a bonus second film
Sonatine included was the iceing on the cake. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Don
5.0 out of 5 stars dancing
tap dancing in japanese two block clogs??? UNBELIEVABLE!!!! I had to watch the ending about 8 times. the movie was good, kudos to the sword play!
Published 3 months ago by doe
5.0 out of 5 stars Saw this movie on late night cable one time and just had to own it
I was quite happy to find that they had released this movie to DVD, so once I saw it available I jumped on it. Read more
Published 3 months ago by P. James
1.0 out of 5 stars Maybe I'll try again someday.
The disc I received was faulty and it simply won't play more that a few minutes. Zatoichi is one of my favorite characters, must get a thumb counter to keep track of the 'kills'... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Keith Gilbert
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Japanese movie.
I saw this movie on HBO and since I am a long time martial artist and student of Iaido, I had to have this movie.
Published 5 months ago by Hugo Redd
5.0 out of 5 stars domo!
excellent samuri movie. available in english. sound story translates well. a lot of action and humor. directed by the main character
with a quality comparable to eastwood
Published 8 months ago by david thorpe
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterfully-Made, Highly Entertaining Film... (4.5/5)
Zatoichi finds himself in a small village - a village caught in a gang war - where he befriends a farmer and her nephew; along the way, he also agrees to help two geishas in their... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Jonathan
5.0 out of 5 stars Kitano is a master film maker
In order to enjoy Kitano's films you need to be a patient person. There a lot of long scenes with beautiful music playing in the background. Read more
Published 10 months ago by marcos rolando hernandez
4.0 out of 5 stars compared to 1962 original
I gave this modern version a 4 out of 5, but the original (as far as I know, there could be earlier versions) from 1962 gets a 5 out of 5. Read more
Published 11 months ago by mike
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