Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman - Vol. 1
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By the 1960's Japanese cinema was dominated by film series with 3 or four "episodes" a year. Actor Shintaro Katsu had portrayed a blind masseur in the movie "Shiranui Kengyo" [Agent Shiranui ]. In 1962 Katsu stared as yet another blind masseur in the film "Zatoichi Monogatari" [ The tale of the low ranking blind man Ichi. ] In the movie Ichi had a name that gave him the rank of "Zato" which basically meant the lowest level of the blind men's masseur guild. However, this was just a cover. Ichi was actually a high ranking Yakuza assassin who's master swordsmanship was sought after by all the Yakuza bosses. While Zatoichi was completely blind, he had incredible hearing, a mastery of the Iaijitsu style of fighting, and a deadly blade hidden within his cane. In the film Ichi is imployed to fight in a Yakuza gang war and is forced to kill a swordsman he respects who was hired by the rival gang. At the end of the film Zatoichi throws away his cane-sword and gives up the life of a Yakuza assassin forever.
However, the film was so popular that a second movie, "Zuko Zatoichi Monogatari" [ The continuing tale of the low ranking blind man Ichi ] was made. Here Ichi, who has his cane sword back, returns to the grave of the rival swordsman he had killed in the last film to pay his respects and ends up being forced to kill his own brother by the same Yakuza boss that hired him a year before. The film ends with Ichi killing the boss in vengeance.Read more ›
here's a review of the episodes:
Episode 1: A Challenge of Chance (46 min)
Ichi (Shintaro Katsu) visits the mining village of Ashido where a cold and calculating yakuza boss named Yasaburo is forcing the locals out of their businesses and jobs. He joins an aging sword master once known as Tatsu the Sword Thrower in aiding Oshin, a young female in protecting her business from Yasaburo and his henchmen. Ichi's biggest challenge is in figuring out how to keep from getting shot by a rifleman in Yasaburo's employ.
Episode 2: The Flower that Bloomed with the Lullaby (47 min)
Ichi befriends Taro, a small boy selling persimmons to pay for his ailing grandfather's medicine. It comes to light that the boy is the son of a wealthy silk merchant and Ichi agrees to escort him home. But a local yakuza boss is after a reward for the boy's return, as is Inosuke, an unemployed gambling dealer who convinces his wife to stall Ichi's progress while he arranges to collect the reward.
Episode 3: A Memorial Day and the Bell of Life (47 min)
Ichi puts a stop to an attack by hired ronin on a rival yakuza family, saving the frightened son but not his widowed mother. He also spares the life of Monji, a grateful ronin who begins following Ichi. Monji attempts to prod Ichi into a duel, but the blind swordsman has vowed not to draw his sword for 12 hours on this day in memory of his dead mother.Read more ›
Before I bought this DVD I was a bit apprehensive. I wondered if Zatoichi could make the transfer to the small screen smoothly or if it would be a bumpier ride than the smooth polish of the films I was accustomed to. HVE and Animeigo (I haven't checked out Tokyo Shock's Zatoichi film yet) did a tremendous job making everything look so crisp and the cinematography, while not awe-inspiring, was always beautiful in general. When you take into account the U.S.'s various failed attempts in transferring movies to television (M.A.S.H being a notable exception) you can imagine the trepidation I was feeling.
When I finally got the DVD I already had another caveat with it. Being the spoiled fan of other TV on DVD releases I was expecting at least half the episodes from the first season (Not all of them, since I DID notice it said "Vol. 1" on the case) as opposed to the five episodes in the two DVDs. I initially was surprised that it was only 30 bucks, but when I finally got the DVD it made a lot more sense.
Playing the first episode, I was immediately hit with some more uneasiness as Tokyo Shock (very kindly I might add) has a disclaimer that runs beforehand warning the viewer that due to the TV prints being so old that there was some poorness to the overall video quality. Afterward, I noticed that this was indeed true. There are some scratches and lines in the film itself, but I found myself to be quite comfortable with it after the initial surprise.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Gift for Mom and she loves this series! Really happy that it was in Japanese and my Mom watched it over and over.Published 3 months ago by JoyJoi
Kwai Chang Cane meets Daredevil. Quite good if you like that genre.Published 4 months ago by Charles A. Baldi
I was watching this TV series when I was young, during the sixties. Still makes me feels excited watching my hero. The superhero with a sword.Published 11 months ago by Salvador