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The Tale of Zatoichi

The Tale of Zatoichi (1962)


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Release Date: Apr 18, 1962 Wide



liked it
Average Rating: 3.9/5
User Ratings: 1,800

My Rating

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

May 14, 2002

Criterion Collection

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All Critics (8) | Top Critics (1) | Fresh (7) | Rotten (0) | DVD (13)

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

July 22, 2004 Full Review Source: Reeling Reviews
Reeling Reviews

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

November 9, 2003 Full Review Source: Goatdog's Movies
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

June 3, 2003 Full Review Source:

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

September 30, 2002 Full Review Source: Apollo Guide
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

Zatoichi kicks ass. The first of an incredible 26 film series that had a TV series in the 70's and a handful of remakes since. Shintar˘ Katsu is Zatoichi, I'm the biggest Takeshi Kitano fan but his version has nothing on the original. Directed by Kenji Misumi who is probably more famous for the Lone Wolf and Cub / Baby cart films, this is an obvious influence on many a great film, not just Samurai films though I might add. If you're even vaguely interested in Samurai or eastern cinema, do yourself a favour and seek it out - then book a week off work to watch the next 25, I know I'm going to!
July 21, 2011

Super Reviewer

criterion has made 6 zatoichi films available on hulu! sorry, people who don't live in u.s. :(
February 28, 2010
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.
August 11, 2009

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.
May 6, 2008
danny d

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

  • Zat˘ichi monogatari (DE)
  • The Tale of Zatoichi (Zat˘ichi monogatari) (UK)
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