Archive of Genre Movies
Zatoichi Meets Yojimbo
Director: Okamoto Kihachi
115 minutes (12) 1965
review by Jeff Young
This is the first in a long series of about two dozen films concerning a wandering Japanese
hero, Zato-ichi, the blind swordsman, an uncannily proficient medieval warrior who doubles as
masseur when times are hard... which they always are for this disabled, yet quietly
philosophical, champion of the oppressed.
A tale of quarrelsome ur-Yakuza gangs, a hidden stash of stolen gold, and
archrivals in love, in an ever changing world, Zatoichi Meets Yojimbo sees our
sightless hero (brilliantly played by Katsu Shintaro) at odds with the mercenary bodyguard of
a ruthless gambling racketeer in what used to be a peaceful village. Exploitation of poor
workers by the crooked bosses drives Zatoichi to wreck the evil overlord's scheme, but even
his kung fu mastery can't prevent a street war, and things take a turn for the worse when a
gun-toting assassin is called in to settle things once and for all...
Stumbling about and feigning incompetence, the humility and humanity of
'Ichi is never in doubt. Yet when the fighting starts he's a tricky opponent, and seemingly
unmatched even by professional killers. Although this martial arts action drama may seem a
bit tame by today's slice 'n' dice standards, the violence is that much more compelling
because it's supported by worthwhile characters, and a strong plot.
Apart from the widescreen format, the video has colour-coded subtitles by
US company AnimEigo, which help link dialogue to the bustle of characters in some scenes.
originally published in VideoVista #24 (March 2001)
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