Zatōichi (2003 film)
Japanese theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Takeshi Kitano|
|Produced by||Masayuki Mori
|Screenplay by||Takeshi Kitano|
|Story by||Kan Shimozawa (novel)|
|Music by||Keiichi Suzuki|
|Edited by||Takeshi Kitano
Office Kitano (JPN)
Miramax Films (USA)
|Running time||116 minutes|
Zatoichi (座頭市 Zatōichi?) (released in the US as The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi) is a 2003 Japanese samurai drama and action film, directed, written, co-edited, and starring Takeshi Kitano ("Beat" Takeshi) in the eleventh film he has directed. Kitano plays the role of the blind swordsman.
The film is a revival of the classic Zatoichi series of samurai film and television dramas. It premiered on September 3, 2003 at the Venice Film Festival, where it won the prestigious Silver Lion for Best Director award, and went on to numerous other awards both at home and abroad. It also stars Tadanobu Asano, Michiyo Okusu, Yui Natsukawa, Guadalcanal Taka, Daigoro Tachibana, Yuko Daike, Ittoku Kishibe, Saburo Ishikura, and Akira Emoto.
The film's plot follows a traditional theme, with Zatoichi coming to the defense of townspeople caught up in a local Yakuza gang war and being forced to pay excessive amounts of protection money. Meanwhile, Zatoichi befriends a local farmer and her gambler nephew and eventually offers his assistance to two geisha siblings (one of whom is actually a man) who are seeking revenge for the murder of their parents. The siblings are the only survivors of a robbery and massacre that was carried out on their family estate ten years ago. They soon discover the people responsible for the murders are the same Yakuza wreaking havoc on the small town.
After slicing his way through an army of henchmen with his sword, Zatoichi defeats the Yakuzas' bodyguard, a powerful ronin, in a duel. Zatoichi later wanders into town and confronts the Yakuza bosses, killing the second-in-command and blinding the elderly Yakuza boss (who had been masquerading as a bumbling old waiter up until this point) after surprising him by opening his eyes. The film ends with a dance number led by noted Japanese tap dance troupe The Stripes, and Zatoichi walking down a trail and tripping over a rock, saying "Even with my eyes wide open, I can't see anything."
- Beat Takeshi as Zatoichi
- Tadanobu Asano as the ronin Hattori Gennosuke
- Michiyo Okusu as O-ume, the farmer
- Yui Natsukawa as O-shino, Hattori's wife
- Daigoro Tachibana as O-sei
- Taichi Saotome as young O-sei
- Yuuko Daike as O-kinu
- Guadalcanal Taka as Shinkichi
- Ittoku Kishibe as Ginzo
- Saburo Ishikura as Ogiya
- Akira Emoto as Owner
Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian gave Zatoichi 4 out of 5 stars. Jasper Sharp of Midnight Eye praised the films as "pure cinematic magic". Allan Tong of Exclaim! said, "when Zatoichi is on screen, the film erupts with brilliant fury in unforgettable action sequences".
- 2003, September 6, Venice Film Festival, Silver Lion for Best Direction, Venice
- 2003, Audience Award Leone Del Pubblico, Venice
- 2003, September 14, 28th International Toronto Film Festival, Audience Award AGF People's Choice Award, Toronto
- 2003, London Film Festival
- Bradshaw, Peter (19 March 2004). "Zatoichi - Film - The Guardian". The Guardian.
- Sharp, Jasper (6 October 2003). "Midnight Eye review: Zatoichi (2003, Takeshi KITANO)". Midnight Eye.
- Tong, Allan (October 2003). "Zatoichi - Directed by Takeshi Kitano - TIFF Reviews - exclaim.ca". Exclaim!.
- Official website
- Zatoichi at the Internet Movie Database
- Zatoichi at the Japanese Movie Database (Japanese)
- Zatoichi at AllMovie
- Zatoichi at Rotten Tomatoes