The Tale of Zatoichi (1962)

The Tale of Zatoichi


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Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

This Japanese adventure is the first in what would become a long series of films chronicling the many adventures of Zatoichi, the blind gambler and former samurai, who travels the islands of Japan to play dice games, give massages, and right any wrongs he runs across. In this outing, he finds himself trying to stop a terrible gang war in the Shimosa prefecture. ~ Sandra Brennan, Rovi

Rating: Unrated
Genre: Drama, Action & Adventure, Art House & International
Directed By:
Written By: Minoru Inuzuka, Kan Shimosawa
In Theaters:
On DVD: May 14, 2002
Criterion Collection



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Critic Reviews for The Tale of Zatoichi

All Critics (8) | Top Critics (1)

Full Review… | February 9, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Zatoichi is good but not nearly great with some very effective performances.

Full Review… | July 22, 2004
Reeling Reviews

Watching this film, I saw elements of some of my favorite filmmakers who followed in its footsteps.

Full Review… | November 9, 2003
Goatdog's Movies

Falls somewhere between the stoic ultra-badness of Lone Wolf and Cub's Ogami Itto, and the sarcastic but good-hearted Yojimbo ... Samurai fans may rejoice

Full Review… | June 3, 2003

Though The Tale of Zatoichi features a few exciting action sequences, this is more of a moody character study than an outright karate flick.

Full Review… | September 30, 2002
Apollo Guide

serves as a good introduction to the character, establishing his major traits and offering a worthwhile narrative

August 2, 2002
Q Network Film Desk

Audience Reviews for The Tale of Zatoichi

criterion has made 6 zatoichi films available on hulu! sorry, people who don't live in u.s. :(

Stella Dallas

Super Reviewer

Quite simply put, this is a perfect movie. The Tale of Zatoichi is the first in a long line of films, detailing the adventures of a blind swordsman. The film begins with Zatoichi using his cunning and his "disability" to his advantage, as he outwits some gamblers. Soon, Zatoichi is hired as a "weapon" for a gang that wishes to wage war on another gang. This other gang also have their own samurai, whom is dealing with his own affliction. The film removes the focus from an all out war and delves into the relationship between the two swordsmen. Both respect each other and have allegiances to their honour and themselves, rather than those that have hired them. The respect they show is very moving, as they bond over fishing nd drinks, and the film eventually culminates in one of the finest climaxes of all time. The fight is not ruined by quick cuts or melodramatic music. Nor is it over-the-top or unbelievable. It still manages to be both gripping, exciting and beautifully moving, proving that you don't need cheap parlor tricks to manipulate an audience. The performances are wonderful and the pacing divine. It literally whips by. It gives you a chance to breath and offers up a bit of a love story, but instead of relying on such a predictable crutch, the character of Zatoichi brushes it aside and the film retains focus on the true story at heart.

Luke Baldock

Super Reviewer


this is a simple yet very engaging samurai classic. katsu plays this role well and the story was well told with a great climax ending. i cant wait to make my way through the entire zatoichi series.

danny d

Super Reviewer

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