The Tale of Zatoichi - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Tale of Zatoichi Reviews

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Super Reviewer
August 11, 2009
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.
Super Reviewer
½ May 6, 2008
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.
Super Reviewer
February 26, 2012
While "The Tale of Zatoichi" went on to inspire and give life to a long series of films that sum up Zatoichi and his life and adventures, the film was a little slow at times as it had to develop and showcase the Zatoichi character to viewers for the first time. This isn't to say the film isn't worth a watch and has several truly exciting and stylish moments to witness throughout, quite the contrare. I love samurai films and while this isn't at the top of the group, it is nevertheless a good film and very prevalent to Japan as it's become almost like the Japanese James Bond franchise. If you're into samurai films then this is a series of films worth checking out and delving into as the 26 films (25 of which are together for the first time on Criterion's spectacular Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman Blu-ray boxset) tell one complete story of the legendary character. Of course there is the televesion series as well to take note of and should be viewed before watching the 26th and final film. Can't wait to continue onwards!
Super Reviewer
½ March 8, 2007
Excellent start to the series.
½ September 30, 2015
First out of 25 Zatoichi features. This blind masseur with extraordinary swordskill and a hearing detailed as fuck. Charming and justice seems to be his key elements. Strikingly good.
December 6, 2011
The first of 26 movies and 100 TV episodes spanning 3 decades. Katso-san portrays a blind, gambling masseur who is secretly a highly skilled swordsman with a heightened sensitivity towards justice, among other things. Set in the mid-1800's when Tokyo was known as Edo, he wanders into a town, stumbles into a situation (whether it's trouble for him or others), and ends up taking on the local system and killing lots of baddies. Ichi though, usually regrets killing even if they deserve it at the time. Life is sacred to him though he isn't religious.

The basic premise was similar to the spaghetti westerns of Sergio Leone that were filmed in the late 1960's. The difference was that each Zatoichi film would turn out to be as much a morality statement as an action flick. The comedy bits are funny and add to the telling of the tale. This is a great film even if you aren't a fan of sub-titles.., Zatoichi let's his cane-sword do much of his talking!

-If possible, get the Criterion Collection's 25 film set complete with documentary & booklet.
July 2, 2013
Two rival gangs are preparing for war and Zatoichi, a blind swordsman, finds himself caught up in the conflict. Don't expect much in the way of action and think of it as an introduction to a character who spawned something like 25 sequels. Still, it makes for good entertainment.
Super Reviewer
½ July 21, 2007
I don't get the 100% rating from RT for this one. It's Yojimbo except he's blind. Yojimbo was made a year earlier, so this one feels derivative.Shintaro Katsu deserves praise for making me believe a blind samurai could be so formidable.
May 12, 2010
This is one of the greatest movies of all time. Katsu Shintaro is a master--his Zatoichi is gritty, quirky, honest, inspiring, goofy, tough, and believable. Superb!
May 5, 2010
More of a gritty crime drama set in Feudal Japan than an action movie. The atmosphere, build up and payoff are excellently done and Zatoichi himself is an awesome character.
½ February 12, 2008
A disconcerting and kind of awesome mix between butt-kicking and grotesque, brutal violence. Some pacing issues hamper what would otherwise be an interesting and enjoyable, if imperfect, samurai film. An infinite number of sequels followed.
"He was probably just some worthless nobody."
March 5, 2010
this my uncle favorty action hero i when i was all care about his sword fight skill. know watch gain show more deeper story line and honbilty of the old samuria code well forgoten by the new Gun fu action . so meny genration gap mostly good story line must see Pg 13 must pls some make new vertion of this moive keep it old school
½ February 12, 2008
Great storyline and great action. I really liked it even though at times it seemed a bit rushed. Kick ass.
January 5, 2008
A japanese classic, the Zatoichis are consistently entertaining samurai films. Do not hesitate for the original.
December 10, 2007
Anyone looking for an intro into Japanese Samurai movies should put this at the top of their list, right up there with Kurosawa.
March 14, 2016
Zatoichi, where have you been all my life?
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