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Zatoichi the Blind Swordsman, Vol. 12 - Zatoichi and the Chess Expert (1965)

Shintarô Katsu , Mikio Narita , Kenji Misumi  |  Unrated |  DVD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Frequently Bought Together

Zatoichi the Blind Swordsman, Vol. 12 - Zatoichi and the Chess Expert + Zatoichi the Blind Swordsman, Vol. 10 - Zatoichi's Revenge
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Product Details

  • Actors: Shintarô Katsu, Mikio Narita, Chizu Hayashi, Kaneko Iwasaki, Gaku Yamamoto
  • Directors: Kenji Misumi
  • Writers: Daisuke Itô, Kan Shimozawa
  • Format: Anamorphic, Color, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: Japanese (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Homevision
  • DVD Release Date: May 18, 2004
  • Run Time: 87 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0001NBNH0
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #276,643 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Zatoichi the Blind Swordsman, Vol. 12 - Zatoichi and the Chess Expert" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

With 25 film sequels and upwards of 100 TV episodes, Shintaro Katsu is the legendary Zatoichi! He’s a low-ranking blind masseur who lives by the Yakuza code and answers his foes with a deadly cane sword. By far one of Japan’s most time-honored screen personas, Zatoichi is to this day the ultimate everyman anti-hero.

Zatoichi and the Chess Expert is a visual feast of swordplay and relentless action. The blind swordsman befriends a wandering, chess-loving, battle-thirsty samurai and helps a young girl who has been accidentally wounded in a brutal sword fight. This spectacular film, photographed in gorgeous color and directed by samurai specialist Kenji Misumi, shows Zatoichi at his best: battling rival yakuza and angry relatives seeking retribution.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Errors in judgements and travelling companions April 1, 2005
A chess master, one who is so jealous of his own talent that he kills any player who beats him. A woman, disguised as a man, traveling with her brother and fleeing some unknown hunter. A beautiful, gentle lady and her wounded child, dying but without money to buy medicine. A blind masseur, with an uncanny swiftness and ability with a sword. These are the cast of characters that set the stage for the 12th Zatoichi film, "Zatoichi and the Chess Expert" ("Zatoichi Jigoku tabi:" literal translation "Zatoichi's Trip to Hell.")

This is one of the best Zatoichi films that I have seen. The characters make for an interesting mix, each likable and formidable in their own way, but each harboring secrets that make them vipers hidden in the brush. The Chess Expert becomes Zatoichi's ally and traveling companion, each maximizing on the talents of the other to earn money. And Zatoichi needs money, to buy medicine for the poor child who was wounded in a sword fight that the masseur was involved in. The child's mother, beautiful and sorrowful, falls slowly in love with Zatoichi, even though she must betray him. The sister and brother are wild cards, somehow shattering the peace of the trip, as murder follows in their wake.

It all comes to an explosive finish, with companions battling companions, and secrets stripped bare. The melancholy love between Zatoichi and the beautiful woman is heart rending, though doomed. An excellent chambara flick all around, and a great Zatoichi film.
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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Zato Ichi Is Possessed By The Demon Of Compassion. November 29, 2005
Format:VHS Tape
The state of blindness does not hinder the swordsman masseur, Zato Ichi, in this well-crafted tale of pre-modern Japan, as he is determined to do what is correct by assisting a young girl's recovery from a severe wound suffered in tangential fashion during a sword-fight involving gangsters in the bandit-ridden country. Of the approximately 25 Zato Ichi films, this must rank as one of the better ones, as Shintaro Katsu who portrays the sightless samurai during the entire series, permits us to see more of the inner man behind the warrior facade, aided by an interesting story written by Kan Shimozawa, who contributes the most complex scenarios of this group of works. In early civilized Japan, all masseurs were blind, as then they could not look upon the bodies of their clients, and Zato Ichi ("Ichi the Masseur") is following this tradition, but he is as well an inordinately successful warrior with his cane sword, mastering with cold aplomb each challenge by aggressors, no matter how many they might be. Ichi is a prototypical loner who makes his way in this work, as in all others, by massaging, while handsomely adding to his income through his cheating skills at gambling, since he is also an inveterate confidence man, yet one who makes mistakes and these errors in judgement serve in strengthening his accessibility to the viewer. There is a pleasingly intricate plot, which places Ichi as a travelling companion of an itinerant samurai named Jumonji, played well by Mikio Narita in his first cinematic role, who is the chess expert of the English language title, and the two interact with several other groups of characters in a neatly-woven narrative. Read more ›
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent August 4, 2005
By Ryan
Format:VHS Tape
I am a huge fan of Zatoichi and I've collected alot of his films. This is among the best. I definitely would recommend this and other Zatoichi movies if your a fan of samurai cinema.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of the better ones in the Zatoichi series September 24, 2002
By W
Format:VHS Tape
Zatoichi films were produced by different directors and the results varied from one to another. Misumi Kenji, who also directed the very first one, seemed to always spend more film footage on character development, resulting in more matured story lines with better-defined personalities. This "Zatoichi Jigokutabi" ( Zatoichi, trip through hell ) was one of the best in the series. Narita Mikio, playing the character Jumonji, was one of the most interesting villains to show up in the episodes, and, Hayashi Chizuru, as the sister seeking vengence, was the most attractive actress to appear in the 1960's Zaitoichi episodes.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not the best, but more than good enough September 4, 2004
Zatoichi is one of the most solid film series around. I've yet to see all of the entries, but of the dozen or so I have seen (including Katsu's 1989 rehash of the character and Takeshi Kitano's 2003 reinterpretation of it), there isn't a rotten egg in the bunch.

Zatoichi and the Chess Expert soars on it's character development and interesting relationships between characters. However, the action here is not the best in the series. Some of the technical aspects are a little off (the way some of the quicker, shorter fight scenes are edited is often jarring and unconvincing; most of the big, important fights though are quite good), and I would have liked to spend more time with some of the characters, a common complaint that I have with many of the series' entries.

Still, this is a film not to be missed. You can't go wrong with a Zatoichi film, and Zatoichi and the Chess Expert is certainly in at least the top third of the series, if only for it's great and complex characters and relationships.

Home Vision's DVD is beautiful! One of the best transfers of the bunch. Some of the closeups were sharper than transfers of movies made in the past five years. A really great disc of a classic, if slightly faulted, film.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars The Chess Master
I liked it because it brought a different element with that samurai being a chess master. I also liked the part where they are playing a game of chess and the samurai asks Zatoichi... Read more
Published 7 months ago by D. Clark
4.0 out of 5 stars Zatoichi will be your hero
I will not bother to write a different review for each Zatoichi movie. I have all twenty six of his movies and have watched all of them multiple times. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Gerald Berry
5.0 out of 5 stars A great speech about being dirt...
Zatoichi runs into a chess playing Samurai, people seeking revenge against a chess playing samurai, people seeking revenge against him, and you can picture on how this movie is... Read more
Published on February 6, 2011 by Michael Valdivielso
5.0 out of 5 stars Checkmate!
The chess player is not as central to the story as Zato's own internal conflict over his gangster lifestyle, which causes the near death of a young child. Read more
Published on December 28, 2007 by Chess Buddhist
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent.
As a lover of all zatoichi films, some are better the others. This is an excellent one. The title in a way indicates the detail put into each incident/scene. Read more
Published on July 21, 2007 by Mr. CP Davies
Director Kenji Misumi did a great job with character development in this 12th Zatoichi outing. As with many of the films he did with Shintaro Katsu [6 in all] I noticed he did a... Read more
Published on September 2, 2006 by Ernest Jagger
5.0 out of 5 stars And Brains, Too!
Another of the Zatoichi series. In this one, blind masseur and master swordsman Ichi is traveling to Enoshima on a ship, and gets in trouble with a gang for his usual gambling... Read more
Published on May 20, 2001 by "oni-sensei"
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