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Zatôichi (The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi)

Zatôichi (The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi) (2003)



Average Rating: 7.2/10
Reviews Counted: 123
Fresh: 106 | Rotten: 17

Colorful, rich with action and wonderfully choreographed, Takeshi Kitano takes on the classic samurai character with his own brand of cinematic flair.


Average Rating: 7.4/10
Critic Reviews: 35
Fresh: 32 | Rotten: 3

Colorful, rich with action and wonderfully choreographed, Takeshi Kitano takes on the classic samurai character with his own brand of cinematic flair.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.9/5
User Ratings: 39,117

My Rating

Movie Info

Beat Takeshi Kitano directs and plays the title role in this tribute to the wildly popular "blind swordsman" of Japanese cinema who was the hero of more than 20 movies and a television series from the early '60s to the late '80s. In Kitano's version, Zatôichi wanders into a town harassed by criminal gangs, and helps two geishas take revenge on the men who murdered their parents. His mission leads him to a final, bloody confrontation with the gang's mastermind and his hired assassin (Tadanobu

Nov 9, 2004


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All Critics (124) | Top Critics (35) | Fresh (106) | Rotten (17) | DVD (20)

The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi begins life as a straight-up samurai movie, evolves into a slapstick comedy and ends as a rousing, tap-dancing musical.

May 27, 2011 Full Review Source: Associated Press
Associated Press
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Zatoichi is a mix-and-match crowd-pleaser that shouldn't add up, but delightfully does.

November 1, 2007 Full Review Source: Newsweek
Top Critic IconTop Critic

However improbably, Kitano pulls it off quite gloriously. Admittedly, this isn't one of his most idiosyncratic, innovative or, indeed, satisfying works, but it's without doubt fast, funny, fabulous to behold.

February 9, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

For those unfamiliar with such films, Zatoichi might be a little off-putting. But given a chance, the movie can be pretty entertaining.

September 30, 2004 Full Review Source: Arizona Republic
Arizona Republic
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This isn't arty violence, just violence, and pretty pedestrian for a samurai picture.

August 27, 2004 Full Review Source: Orlando Sentinel
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This is a wonderfully odd movie, proof that an artist can leave his personal stamp on any film, no matter the genre.

August 20, 2004 Full Review Source: Miami Herald
Miami Herald
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This non-traditional samurai movie isn't for kids.

December 28, 2010 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

Violent and bloody, carefully choreographed and filled with dry humor, Takeshi Kitano's modern take on the classic Japanese character is a unique vision that's told with confidence.

September 27, 2009 Full Review Source: Movie Views

Zatoichi is a bloody film that also manages to be beautiful and funny.

September 22, 2009 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis
Movie Metropolis

Three-frame cuts of the action from multiple camera angles, hose-spurted blood and superimposed wounds do what they can in their primitive way to get you past the problem of improbability.

September 17, 2009 Full Review Source: Cinema Signals
Cinema Signals

Seen now, sans all the hype and hoopla)...we can gauge Kitano's production for what it truly is - a compelling and quite complex bit of fractured folklore.

September 17, 2009 Full Review Source: PopMatters

Beat Takeshi's take on the Zatoichi storyline is very entertaining and continuously original...

April 29, 2009 Full Review Source: Cinema Crazed
Cinema Crazed

I freely admit that I have not been seduced by Takeshi Kitano's films, no, not even Hana-Bi.

October 18, 2008 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

The result meanders, but provides a few exciting moments.

December 27, 2007 Full Review Source: Big Picture Big Sound
Big Picture Big Sound

Imposing, yet often intimate. Abrasive, but amusing. Arty, but eminently accessible. Bring on the sequel.

April 1, 2006 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

Parecería que Kitano se está divirtiendo, más que nada.

May 3, 2005 Full Review Source: Uruguay Total
Uruguay Total

É uma pena que esta tenha sido, provavelmente, a única incursão de Kitano pelo universo de Zatoichi. Seria bom ver o samurai cego mais vezes.

December 18, 2004 Full Review Source: Cinema em Cena
Cinema em Cena

A rich display of fantasy swordsplay at its goriest, slickest and most demanding.

November 16, 2004 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Despite its period setting, it's a return to the combination of slapstick humor, dramatic intrigue, and sudden bloodshed that distinguished his early efforts. In other words, it's vintage Kitano.

November 11, 2004 Full Review Source: PopMatters

I'd call Zatoichi stylish to the point of distraction, except I'm not sure what I was being distracted from.

October 28, 2004 Full Review Source: Window to the Movies
Window to the Movies

Zatoichi triumphs where few movies dare to tread

September 30, 2004

This ain't your sensei's samurai film.

September 24, 2004 Full Review
Capital Times (Madison, WI)

Audience Reviews for Zatôichi (The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi)

Did not kick ass.
July 28, 2007

Super Reviewer

By all means, I am no fan of the genre of the Samurai swordsman, but I can still expect more than slow story-telling, wooden acting and unfunny slapstick. It doesn't help that the swords, wounds and the gushing blood are computer animated and you see it. Sure, the film doesn't take itself too seriously, but it's still plain boring at times. Given the mostly positive reviews I expected a lot more but this did not work for me on any level. Maybe it's the Western world viewing expectations, maybe it's me. Maybe the film is just crap, though. I gave up after an hour.
July 4, 2012

Super Reviewer

'Beat' Takeshi Kitano made his name as a standup comedian before entering into cinema with a surprising array of serious and very violent roles. Here he tries to recapture the successful character who was a popular figure in Japanese film & television throughout the 1960's to the 1980's.
Nineteenth-century blind nomad known as a gambler and masseur is also a lightning-fast master swordsman who stumbles into a town run by gangs and a powerful samurai. When he meets two geishas who are out to avenge their parents' murder, the fireworks begin.
I've never seen the very successful series of films or television program of which this is based upon, so i'm not in a position to compare but it doesn't hinder the enjoyment of this visceral yet playful bloodfest. Kitano stages the whole yarn in a very theatrical style, with extremely exagerrated bloodletting, combined with an excellent soundtrack to fit with the rythmic moments and movements from the characters, like workers plowing the fields or rain pattering off an umbrella. It's beautifully shot and really captures the ingriguing Japanese culture with several stunning shots. As much as I admire the almost mystical and stoic tradition of the Japanese, I'm not the biggest Samurai fan, so the whole thing worked for me only to a certain degree. However, if your a fan of swordplay, then this will be right up your kimono.
There's no denying the visual style throughout this serene yet kinetic bloodbath. It's like an eastern spaghetti western, but if your not interested in the genre then harikari may be a better option for you.
April 18, 2011

Super Reviewer

A wandering blind masseur with unsurpassed skills as a swordsman finds himself allied with a quirky collection of misfits against a ruthless criminal gang, including a brother and sister impersonating a pair of geishas and an unlucky would-be gambler. I'm a big fan of Beat Takeshi, and I love samurai movies so I was never going to dislike this film. It's my first non-gangster piece from him and I have to say, it's got to be my favourite; the great cast of likeable oddballs feel like real people rather than resorting to the kind of contrived wackiness of many indie style films, and it has a mix of ingredients such as a wide streak of gentle humour and even a musical tap number(!) that just don't sound like they'd fit in with a samurai film, but somehow it works! The explosions of artful violence are beautifully done, with an inventive use of CGI to represent the gushing blood that looks like splashes of vibrant red paint against the subdued tones of Beat Takeshi's cinematic canvas. An inventive and beautiful looking samurai film that is a worthy successor to the heritage of Akira Kurosawa.
January 23, 2011
xGary Xx

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