The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi

Shintaro Katsu, the original blind swordsman, died in 1997, but Takeshi "Beat" Kitano resurrects the Japanese cult character that appeared in 26 films and countless TV shows from 1962 to 1989. In the traditional Japanese style of blood splattering with cartoon-like exaggeration to a soundtrack reminiscent of the silent- movie era, Zatoichi battles the town’s controlling gang with the help of two geishas who are seeking revenge. Although his sagging head, closed eyes and quiet demeanor make him look defenseless and even asleep, the blind swordsman’s lightning-fast draw of his hidden sword and quick lethal blows convince otherwise. Kitano commands the screen as the fighting hero, but fails to dazzle as a director. The labyrinthine plot and nonlinear storytelling is confusing, and the exciting action scenes and comic relief are few and far between.


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