Review Date: 5/21/10
Director: Shintaro Katsu
Cast: Shintaro Katsu
Twenty-fourth film in the series.
Not one of Zatoichi's better outings, and Shintaro Katsu isn't the strongest director, either. Zatoichi (Shintaro Katsu) is minding his own business like he always does, when a chance meeting with a kind shamisen player leads to her accidental death. Feeling responsible, he tracks down the woman's daughter who is working in a high end brothel. In order to redeem her (and clear his conscience), he goes to a gambling house and hustles up a hefty sum. Naturally, this pisses off all of the Yakuza in town, and everyone wants a piece of Ichi. It doesn't help that he also has a 100-ryo bounty on his head. Anyway, the whole thing is slow, tedious, and pointless, and the overall message is that men are evil and the plight of prostitutes is unbearably miserable. The entire film is pretty much one giant downer.
The production values are a step down from previous entries and the film is lacking in craftsmanship. Additionally, the narrative is confusing and surprisingly hard to follow. By this point in the series, the formula has become overly predictable and we see Ichi repeating the same old tricks to lesser effect. The film does feature a couple of nice blood geysers, along with a bizarre and surprising ejaculation scene. That's definitely a first for the series. The action scenes are pretty average, but things start to get really tense at the end with a jaw dropping scene that leaves Ichi crippled. But I'm sure he'll be okay by the next film. Maybe... The series is definitely waning at this point, and the well is just about dry.