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Zatoichi

Shintaro Katsu
1989, Japan, 116 minutes
www.media-blasters.com

Roxie Cinema

2/11, 1145P

“A beautiful film that is very poetic and poignant as well as being exciting. Very evocative of the period, unlike many other samurai films made since the mid-80s… there are several spectacularly choreographed swordfights, especially the massacre at the climax as well as some surprisingly bloody gore…”. - Chris D.

The recent theatrical release of Takeshi Kitano’s excellent 21 st century take on the venerable blind swordsman Zatoichi made me want to see more of the original films in a movie theater. The last time I saw the blind masseur hack his way across the big screen was the late 80s when a scratchy, splicy15 year-old old print of Zatoichi meets Yojimbo came to my local repertory theater. It’s been too long.

Thankfully, the good folks at Media-Blasters discovered an excellent 35mm film print of Shintaro Katsu’s Zatoichi the 26 th (and final) film in the series. It was produced, written, directed by, and stars Shintaro Katsu, the man who originated the Blind Swordsman character, produced the Lone Wolf and Cub series, and also starred as Hanzo ‘The Razor’ Itami – the most politically incorrect ‘hero’ in the history of cinema.

This is one of the best of the series with blind masseur Ichi approaching elderly status but still wandering the backroads of 1860's Japan, gambling and being pursued by bounty hunting yakuza and lone wolf killers. But darkness is his ally, so we’re going to show this one late at night.

- Bruce Fletcher

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