Though beautifully filmed and
featuring yet another quality performance by Shintaro Katsu as Zatoichi
the Blind Masseuse and Master Swordsman, THE TALE OF ZATOICHI CONTINUES
feels like a quick, cheap sequel made to cash in on the success of the
first film. The story takes place a year after TALE
OF ZATOICHI, as a wandering Ichi heads back to the town of the first
to pay respects to the samurai he befriended and inevitably killed in
battle. When he gets there, he finds gangsters still holding
grudges, leading to the mass-slaughter of most of them. But
the film takes a half an hour to get Ichi back to that town, and
features much exposition and internal Ichi monologuing for those in
the audience who hadn't seen the first film.
There is a second
story about Ichi and a mysterious crippled man (played by Katsu's
brother Tomasiburo Wakayama) who both loved the same woman years
ago. After 72 minutes of these dueling plots, neither one of
which is terribly involving, the film ends. When I say "the
film ends", I mean that seconds after Ichi finishes off one final bad
guy, the "the end" sign comes up so abruptly, you may think that the
real end of the film was damaged long ago and lost forever.
The poor guy slashed by Ichi's sword doesn't even get a
chance to fall down before
the film is rushing you out of the theater.
Disappointing as it seems today after the simple beauty of TALE OF ZATOICHI, THE TALE OF ZATOICHI CONTINUES was obviously enough of a hit in Japan to spark roughly two dozen more sequels over the next decade. The series would get much better after this, when the makers realized the potential of the character and the need for a proper story in each new film that allowed the peculiar talents of both Zatoichi and the man who played him to shine. - JB
ADD ANOTHER QUOTE AND MAKE IT A GALLON
"You are no ordinary masseuse."
"If I were, I'd be dead by now."