Zatoichi is directed by Takeshi Kitano. The film stars
Beat Takeshi, Tadanobu Asano, Michiyo Okusu, Yui Natsukawa,
Guadalcanal Taka, Daigiro Tachibana, Yuko Daike, Ittoku
Kishibe, Saburo Ishikura, and Akira Emoto. ***
The plot of Zatoichi revolves around the title character,
a blind swordsman. Townspeople have been caught in the crossfire
of a gang war - and he has arrived to save them from being
conned into paying insanely-high amounts of protection money.
It's up to the blind swordsman to put an end to this ongoing
conflict and its negative effects on the innocent bystanders.
The plot of Zatoichi is nothing new, but the real reason
to give the film a viewing is for its unparalleled level
of martial arts action and stylized violence. This film
isn't the kind that's going to become critically-acclaimed
or win any major film awards, but it was never meant to
be that kind of movie. ***
Still, Zatoichi scores major points in many areas.
Beautifully filmed and featuring some spectacular battle
scenes, it's total eye candy for its 2 hour duration. Even
the villain manages to get more depth than most bad guys
do in this sort of movie. If I have one complaint, it's
that the film tends to stray from focusing on Zatoichi himself
one too many times. Yes, these supporting characters are
interesting, but it simply isn't their movie. But the good
outweighs the bad. Zatoichi is Oriental martial arts filmmaking
the way it was meant to be enjoyed. ---
Image And Sound:
While is a good-looking transfer, it's another victim
of being overprocessed. Noise reduction and edge enhancement
have once again been employed. It's a step up from earlier
versions of the movie, but how hard is it for the film companies
to deliver faithful catalogue masters? Like the other Ultimate
Force of Four films in the collection, this one (disappointingly)
only features lossless audio for its English dub track.
Why are the native language tracks getting the shaft?