Zatoichi And A Chest Of Gold (Japan 1964)

Rating: ****
Review Date: 5/21/00
Cast: Shintaro Katsu, Tomisaburo Wakayama

Sixth film in the series.

Zatoichi (Shintaro Katsu) visits a grave to pay his respects to a man he accidentally killed two years earlier. Unfortunately for him, he gets accused of stealing a chest of gold that the local farmers had raised to pay their taxes, so it's up to him to clear his name and return the gold to the farmers. During his investigation, he is challenged by a skilled samurai, played by Katsu's own brother, Tomisaburo Wakayama (Ogami Itto of "Lone Wolf And Cub" fame). The resulting melee is astonishing as the two accomplished swordsmen square off. It even took me by surprise!

More slice and dice goodness from Shintaro Katsu and pals. The episode starts off rather shaky, as we get several scenes of Zatoichi on a empty stage dispatching several groups of bad guys - an odd film technique that would later invade the kung fu genre in the 70's. After that though, things quickly fall back into place. Shintaro Katsu is once again in top form as Zatoichi, and this episode brings the first sight of blood to the series. It also introduces the first true sit-com moment to the series when Zatoichi reluctantly beds an unattractive and stinky whore. Was this necessary? Probably not, but it's played well.