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Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting: Zatoichi’s Vengeance January 27, 2008

Posted by Ian W in : Film Reviews, Drama, Martial Arts , add a comment

It’s been a while since I’ve watched any of the Zatoichi films and with half the series still waiting to be discovered I though it was about time to renew my acquaintance with the blind swordsman.

This is the thirteenth in the series and features everything I’ve come to expect – a beautiful woman fallen on hard times, a masterless samurai, an evil Yakuza boss with a seemingly endless supply of henchmen, superb swordplay (with a trick or two from Zatoichi) and plenty of eating and drinking. If there’s one thing our blind masseur enjoys it’s filling his belly.

They say it a fine line between comedy and tragedy and Shintaro Katsu straddles it brilliantly in these films. He’ll make you laugh one minute and bring you close to tears the next, not to mention displaying his own unique sword fighting style.

While Ichi leaves a trail of dead and wounded in his wake the fight scenes are oddly bloodless. This film features a rare (at least up to this point in the series) glimpse of the red stuff, not as you might expect, as Zatoichi slices and dices his way through the bad guys, but from a nose bleed he suffers while taking a beating.

While the films may be as formulaic as the Bond movies in the west, they are always watchable thanks to Katsu as the downtrodden blind man who always wins the fights but can never seem to find happiness.

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