Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman And The Chess Expert (Japan 1965)

Rating: ****
Review Date: 6/11/00
Cast: Shintaro Katsu

Twelfth film in the series.

A slow, but engaging Zatoichi adventure with a lot of heart. Ichi (Shintaro Katsu) stirs up trouble when he cons a bunch a gamblers, and a cute little girl named Miki is injured in the ensuing scuffle. The girl needs a very rare and expensive medicine in order to recover, and Ichi takes it upon himself to see that she gets well again. Shintaro Katsu portrays Zatoichi's grief and desperation in this situation extremely well, and his performance is riveting. Ichi also meets an expert chess player during his travels and they develop a healthy friendship and rivalry. Unfortunately, we all know what's going to happen when Zatoichi befriends a man of extraordinary skill - they eventually end up opposing each other. A tad light on action, but it benefits from an intelligent and well laid out script.