Zat˘ichi (The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi) - Rotten Tomatoes

Zat˘ichi (The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi) (2003)

Zat˘ichi (The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi)



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

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, Zat˘ichi 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 … More

Rating: R (for strong stylized bloody violence)
Genre: Drama , Action & Adventure , Art House & International
Directed By:
Written By: Takeshi Kitano , Kan Shimosawa
In Theaters:
On DVD: Nov 9, 2004
Box Office: $0.6M
Miramax Films - Official Site


as Aunt O-Ume

as Aunt Oume

as Geisha O-Sei

as Geisha O-Kinu

as Hattori Genosuke

as Tavern Pops

as Lord Sakai

as Dancing Farmer

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as Carpenter

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as Yakuza Boss on the C...

as Rival Swordsman

as Ginzo's Henchman I

as Boss Funahachi

as Dice Dealer at Funah...

as Funahachi's Bodyguar...

as Young O-Kinu

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as Playboy at Home

as Kuchinawa Underling ...

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Critic Reviews for Zat˘ichi (The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi)

All Critics (124) | Top Critics (35)

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.

Full Review… | May 27, 2011
Associated Press
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | November 1, 2007
Top 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.

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

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

Full Review… | September 30, 2004
Arizona Republic
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | December 28, 2010
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.

Full Review… | September 27, 2009

Audience Reviews for Zat˘ichi (The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi)


Did not kick ass.

Bob Stinson

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.

Jens S.

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.

Mark Walker

Super Reviewer

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