Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman's Cane Sword (Japan 1967)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 6/24/00
Cast: Shintaro Katsu

Fifteenth film in the series.

This Zatoichi adventure relies more on drama and suspense than action and swordplay, and therefore is a bit slow and long winded. In fact, the entire first hour is almost completely devoid of any action whatsoever, but Ichi makes up for it in the vicious end game. Once again, Zatoichi (Shintaro Katsu) stumbles upon a dying man and reluctantly gets involved in the affair. He visits a town overrun by yakuza and corrupt officials and decides to set things right. The only problem is that he meets an old swordsmith who tells him that his sword will break the next time he uses it to kill someone. Can Ichi give up the sword and live as an honest man? Not likely. The drama unfolds very nicely and the conclusion is quite satisfying. Again, a superb performance for Shintaro Katsu and the cinematography is gorgeous. When they finally get around to fighting, it's as good as you would expect from the series, except that this time around the bad guys are starting to use a little strategy when dealing with Ichi. Good stuff, only I wish it weren't so slow and talky.