The Tale of Zatoichi

"Very Good"

The Tale of Zatoichi Review


Spawning 26 sequels and 100 TV episodes, Shantaro Katsu's Zatoichi is a legendary hero of Japanese entertainment. Which makes it kind of wierd, I think, that I've never heard of him before now.

In this, his first feature film appearance, now appearing on DVD, Zatoichi shows the same kind of gumption that makes Clint Eastwood's characters such unlikely heroes -- but heroes nonetheless. For starters, what audience will identify with him? He's a blind masseur who lives by the Yakuza mercenary code, wandering from village to village while vanquishing his tormentors with a sword he wields with deadly accuracy. Though blind (and, let's face it, ugly and nearly obese), he can still toss a candle into the air, draw his sword, and slice it in two... lengthwise, with both sides still burning.

There's something about Zatoichi that makes him endearing to the common man, the Japanese laborer, maybe, who feels that even though he's put-upon at work, he might be able to slice a candle in two.

The story in his debut film is really a miss, however -- Zatoichi finds himself stuck between warring Yakuza factions, saddled with a middling love story and an obvious conclusion. But maybe that's what the Japanese audiences were looking for: No surprises.

Aka Zatoichi Monogatari.



The Tale of Zatoichi

Facts and Figures

Run time: 95 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 18th April 1962

Distributed by: Criterion Collection

Production compaines: Daiei Motion Picture Company

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 100%
Fresh: 7

IMDB: 7.7 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Keji Misumi

Starring: as Zatoichi, Masayo Banri as Tane, as Sasagawa yakuza boss, Hajime Mitamura as Hanji of Matsugishi, Shigeru Amachi as Hirate, Miki, as Yoshi / Hanji's wife, Ikuko Môri as Yutaka / Shigezô's wife, Michirô Minami as Tatekichi / Tane's brother / Saki's lover / Iioka yakuza member, as Sukegorô of Iioka / Iioka yakuza boss, Toshio Chiba as Masakichi / Iioka yakuza member, Manabu Morita as Seisuke / Tane's ex-lover / Iioka yakuza member, Yoichi Funaki as Yogorô / Sasagawa yakuza member, Kinya Ichikawa as Mokichi / Sasagawa yakuza member, Eigoro Onoe as Rihei / Sasagawa yakuza member, Yoshito Yamaji as Yahei / Father of Tane and Tatekichi, Yukio Horikita as Kanaji / Sasagawa yakuza member, Ryuuji Fukui as Daihachi / Iioka yakuza member, Masayoshi Kikuno as A coolie, Hajime Koshikawa as A farmer, Akira Shiga as A dice-roller, Masashi Hamada as Iioka yakuza member, Hiroyoshi Nishioka as Iioka yakuza member, Gen Kimura as Sasagawa gambler spy, Taizô Sengoku as Ishichi / Sasagawa yakuza member, Noboru Taniguchi as Tomozô / Sasagawa yakuza member, Shingo Hosotani as Iioka yakuza member, Katsuyoshi Baba as Iioka yakuza member, Yô Yuuki as Iioka yakuza member, Keiko Awanami as Saki / Tatekichi's lover, Kanae Kobayashi as Kane the Sasagawa innkeeper, Jun Katsumura as Iioka yakuza

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Their Finest Movie Review

Their Finest Movie Review

Skilfully written, directed and acted, this offbeat British period film tells a story that catches...

Unforgettable Movie Review

Unforgettable Movie Review

With heavy echoes of trashy thrillers like Fatal Attraction, this movie overcomes its painfully simplistic...

The Belko Experiment Movie Review

The Belko Experiment Movie Review

The kill-or-die scenario that this movie hinges on isn't something new; it's been used in...

The Fate of the Furious Movie Review

The Fate of the Furious Movie Review

With the more dumbed-down title Fast & Furious 8 outside of North America, this overcrowded...

A Quiet Passion Movie Review

A Quiet Passion Movie Review

British writer-director Terence Davies (The Deep Blue Sea) is an expert at digging beneath the...

The Sense of an Ending Movie Review

The Sense of an Ending Movie Review

Julian Barnes' Booker Prize-winning novel is adapted into a remarkably intelligent, gently involving film anchored...

The Boss Baby Movie Review

The Boss Baby Movie Review

There isn't a lot of subtlety in this madcap animated comedy, which is more aimed...

Advertisement
City of Tiny Lights Movie Review

City of Tiny Lights Movie Review

After the latest incarnation of Dredd, director Pete Travis shifts gears drastically for this complex...

Going in Style Movie Review

Going in Style Movie Review

This is only technically a remake of the iconic 1979 film starring movie icons George...

Graduation Movie Review

Graduation Movie Review

Romanian filmmaker Cristian Mungiu (4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days) recounts another staggeringly detailed...

Ghost in the Shell Movie Review

Ghost in the Shell Movie Review

This sci-fi thriller is so visually stunning that it deserves to be mentioned in the...

Free Fire Movie Review

Free Fire Movie Review

Basically a 90-minute shoot-out, there isn't a lot to this movie. British filmmaker Ben Wheatley...

Life Movie Review

Life Movie Review

Like a mash-up of Alien and Gravity, this ripping sci-fi horror movie is very effective...

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

Based on a true story, it's the historical aspect of these events that holds the...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.