Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman Samaritan (Japan 1968)

Rating: ****
Review Date: 8/7/00
Cast: Shintaro Katsu

Nineteenth film in the series.

This film is both a triumph and an embarrassment for the series. It's nice to see a strong and touching story with great characters and great action, but it's unfortunately tainted by a handful of goofy and misplaced comedic gags. It also has some of the WORST opening credits I've ever seen. (what were they thinking?!?) The film opens as Zatoichi (Shintaro Katsu) and his rather odd travelling companion are performing a simple Yakuza task of killing a man who's overdue on his loan. Unknown to them, he has a sister, and the whole thing was just a plot to get her. She must really be something, because EVERYONE in the film wants to sleep with her or whore her out. Ashamed of what he's done, Ichi saves the girl from the brigands and spends the rest of the film trying to make amends for his misdeed. This of course involves slaying all of her undesired would-be suitors... Great action sequences are found throughout the film, and the pain and tenderness between Ichi and Osode is genuinely touching. Great stuff.