ZATOICHI'S FLASHING SWORD

(Japanese Title: Zatôichi abare tako)
(1964 - Japan)
With Shintaro Katsu, Bokuzen Hidari
Directed by Kazuo Ikehiro
Reviewed by JB

Loves: long afternoon walks, playing the shamisen, killing...     Do the titles even matter by now?  ZATOICHI AND THE CHEST OF GOLD. ZATOICHI'S FLASHING SWORD.  ZATOICHI AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM.  ZATOICHI AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE.

   Do the plots even matter?  Zatoichi systematically wipes out every single member of a gang that has pissed him off.  Shouldn't it be boring by this time?

     Not really.  But it gets increasingly preposterous.  In the pre-credit sequence (shades of James Bond!), Ichi slices a fly in three out of mid air.  I know Ichi is a master swordsman but, seriously.... trisecting a moving fly?  Later in the film, Ichi unconvincingly slices six gangsters to death while submerged underwater (shades of THUNDERBALL).  In one otherwise excellent scene, he throws two small knives into Noh masks hanging on a wall just to make a point.  It's a great little moment, but think about it.  He's blind. How the hell does he know there are Noh masks on the wall of a room he's never been in before?

     Standard issue Ichi film, but entertaining thanks to a story and direction that gives just the right weight to all the elements - comedy, characterization, subplot and, of course, violence.  Comic actor Bokuzen Hidari (SEVEN SAMURAI, THE LOWER DEPTHS) plays the fireworks master, but unfortunately, he and Katsu share only two scenes together. - JB

Zatoichi: Blind Swordsman     The Stuff You Gotta Watch

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