Zatoichi: Masseur Ichi Enters Again (Japan 1963)

Rating: ****
Alternate Title: New Tale Of Zatoichi
Review Date: 5/7/00
Cast: Shintaro Katsu

Third film in the series.

The fledgling "Zatoichi" franchise finally starts to spread its wings with this excellent adventure. As a result of Ichi's (Shintaro Katsu) cold-blooded murder at the end of "The Return Of Masseur Ichi," he's become a criminal and a wanted man. While being dogged by vengeful relatives of the deceased, Ichi meets up with his old master who taught him the art of swordsmanship. Unfortunately, the old master has slipped off the path of righteousness which leads to the classic "student vs. master" showdown. Ichi also makes a solemn vow to give up his life as a Yakuza when he promises to marry the master's sister, but his haunting past and ill fortune force him to take up the sword once again.

An excellent outing, and the first of the "Zatoichi" films to be shot in color. Shintaro Katsu effortlessly slips into his Zatoichi role and gives a stunning and emotional performance. The wedding proposal sequence is a brilliant heartfelt showcase for Ichi's humility, shame, and solemn devotion. The action scenes in the series continue to improve, and the sets, cinematography, and choregraphy are excellent.