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Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman (Criterion Collection) (Blu-ray + DVD)

4.7 out of 5 stars 195 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

The colossally popular Zatoichi films make up the longest-running action series in Japanese history and created one of the screen’s great heroes: an itinerant blind masseur who also happens to be a lightning-fast swordsman. As this iconic figure, the charismatic and earthy Shintaro Katsu became an instant superstar, lending a larger-than-life presence to the thrilling adventures of a man who lives staunchly by a code of honor and delivers justice in every town and village he enters. The films that feature him are variously pulse-pounding, hilarious, stirring, and completely off-the-wall. This deluxe set features the string of twenty-five Zatoichi films made between 1962 and 1973, collected in one package for the first time.

Special Features

  • New digital restorations of all twenty-five films
  • The Blind Swordsman, a 1978 documentary about Shintaro Katsu
  • New interview with Asian-film critic Tony Rayns
  • Trailers for all twenty-five films
  • New English subtitle translations
  • PLUS: A book featuring an essays, short stories and 25 new illustrations

  • Product Details

    • Actors: Shintaro Katsu
    • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
    • Language: Japanese
    • Subtitles: English
    • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
    • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
    • Number of discs: 27
    • Rated:
      Unrated
      Not Rated
    • Studio: Criterion Collection
    • DVD Release Date: November 26, 2013
    • Run Time: 2198 minutes
    • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (195 customer reviews)
    • ASIN: B00EO2I6OM
    • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #52,775 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

    Customer Reviews

    Top Customer Reviews

    By Zack Davisson HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 19, 2006
    Format: DVD
    Zatoichi is an institution in Japanese film, almost like James Bond or Star Trek films, but with the difference that the same actor has played the main character since the series inception, and with an amazing consistency of quality from the original film in 1962 through the final installment, #26, in 1989. Shintaro Katsu played many roles in his life, but in the minds of hearts of everyone who loves samurai films he will always be Zatoichi.

    This boxset contains seven DVDs, all from the tail end of the Zatoichi series when Katsu had taken over the production duties on the series. They are all quality films, with "The Festival of Fire" and "Zatoichi meets Yojimbo" being among the best of the entire run. Its a great price for seven DVDs as well, which would cost much more if bought individually.

    For those starting out with Zatoichi, the films are diverse enough to give a good feel for the flavor of the series. Funny films and serious films, they all have the charm and appeal that only Shintaro Katsu could bring to the table in a samurai action film. And this is some seriously cool samurai action. Katsu was a great actor, and a great swordsman as well.

    The films in this collection are:

    Zatoichi #16 - the Outlaw - A complicated story with a vast cast of characters. Directed by Satsuo Yamamoto, who also made the 1968 ghost story "Botan Doro."

    Zatoichi #20 - Meets Yojimbo - A highly anticipated showdown between Zatoichi and Toshiro Mifune playing his famous Yojimbo character. Directed by acclaimed samurai film master Kihachi Okamoto, best known for "Sworld of Doom" and "Kill!"

    Zatoichi #21 - The Festival of Fire - Considered one of the best entries in the series, directed by the original Zatoichi director Kenji Misumi.
    Read more ›
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    Format: DVD
    Zatoichi is great entertainment-and this set collects seven of the best episodes-though I've yet to see any episode that wasn't highly entertaining. Played by Katsu Shintaro, blind (zato) Ichi is a master swordsman who wanders Japan dispensing justice from his sword which he carries in his walking cane. Along the way he earns money as an "Anma" or "Masseur" and as a gambler.
    It may sound wierd--but it's top flight entertainment--and historically, the blind in Japan were taught to be masseurs by trade. There's just a perfect blend of drama, action and comedy in these movies to keep things interesting at all times. Nowhere near as bloody as movies like "Lone Wolf"--the fight scenes are very well done--and there's just a little blood and gore thrown in now and then. Katsu Shintaro is just fantastic in this role-and though I also like him as "Hanzo the Razor"-he plays the role of Zatoichi to perfection.
    If you're not familiar with Zatoichi--or if you only know the blond, blind Zatoichi from Takeshi Kitano--give this a try--unless you have a hang up with subtitles--you're sure to be pleased!
    The seven movies in this set are "Zatoichi the Outlaw", Zatoichi meets Yojimbo" (with Mifune}, "Zatoichi meets the One Armed Swordman", "Zatoichi at Large", "Zatoichi in Desperation", "Zatoichi:The Festival of Fire" and "Zatoichi's Conspiracy"
    Comment 55 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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    Format: DVD Verified Purchase
    I got this collection without having seen a Zatoichi episode before. I was enthralled right off with Zatoichi, who is not played by Toshiro Mifune by the way, but is played by Shintaro Katsu who is also a superb actor. Toshiro Mifune appears in the episode "Zatoichi Meets Yojimbo" and does an amazing bit of swordplay when it is his character's time of confrontation.

    Shintaro Katsu has an amazing ability to draw the audience into the "willing suspension of disbelief" in regards to these episodes. Some viewers may find a few of the scenes (in later episodes) to be shocking or disgusting. Fortunately, these are very rare, as are the occasional bad actors that remind us that this is not real but show business. With such things being wonderfully absent in 97 percent of the mix, this collection of DVDs is a great addition to my growing library. I have mostly Toshiro Mifune movies, and the "Spaghetti Western" flavor of this Zatoichi collection fits right in.

    Some might say that Zatoichi is like the Lone Ranger or Eastwood's characters where one comes into a town, and defeats the bad guys with wits and amazing talent, dropping the jaws of the locals. Being a blind masseuse, Zatoichi has "super-hearing" much like the comic-book hero "DareDevil" and regularly does amazing feats that are very entertaining and sometimes deliberately humorous.

    A really excellent bunch of movies/episodes, so 5 stars is what I give it.
    1 Comment 74 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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    Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
    I'll keep this short-and-sweet. This set is one of the most beautiful, thoughtfully-designed, and well-made Blu-Ray/DVD Collector's Set packages I've ever had the luxury of owning. It's a gem. Yes, the discs are all held in cardboard sleeves, but the playing-side of the discs is against a clear, smooth piece of thin plastic, so providing you tease the discs out carefully and don't mistreat the packaging, your discs should remain shiny and spotless for years to come. These are not the same kind of useless cardboard sleeves other manufacturers have used. All of my discs arrived in spotless condition, and I have no doubt they will remain that way, thanks to Criterion's very well thought-out packaging.

    This really is a delightful and lovely set, that will take pride of place in any Blu-Ray or DVD collection. Just remember that this set is Region-Locked, so all the DVD's are Region 1, and all of the Blu-Ray's are Region A. Other than that, the films look great, and Criterion have really pushed the boat out on this set. One of the best releases of any set of films from anywhere in the world I've ever seen.

    You owe it to yourself to get this collection now!
    4 Comments 40 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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