Review Date: 5/29/00
Cast: Shintaro Katsu, Miwa Takada
Ninth film in the series.
After half a dozen or so sequels, the series is finally beginning to show some wear. Blind masseur Zatoichi (Shintaro Katsu) visits a village to celebrate the coming of the new year. He hooks up with two ladies: one who is sheltering her brother who's an escaped convict, and the other (irresistably cute Miwa Takada) is a young woman who is looking for her missing father. Naturally, Zatoichi gets involved with both of these cases which ironically turn out to be closely linked (no surprise there). In a dramatic turn of events, Zatoichi meets the town drunkard who may or may not be Ichi's long lost father, which creates a lot of emotional anxiety. Once again, corrupt officials are to blame for everyone's problems, and Zatoichi delivers swift justice with his lightning draw.
Another well made entry in the series, with great action sequences and nice cinematography. However, unlike many of the other films, this one never manages to emotionally engage the viewer - either that, or I'm just becoming jaded. While nicely executed, the action scenes are rather sparse, and it appears as though all of the actors are just going through the motions. Shintaro Katsu is once again in top form, but Zatoichi's angst and cynicism seem to be missing, or at least seriously downplayed.