The Tale of Zatoichi - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Tale of Zatoichi Reviews

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March 14, 2016
Zatoichi, where have you been all my life?
½ February 11, 2016
Suitably saving on the action to accentuate the deadliness of the hero, this is a great samurai film (albeit with dated fighting scenes) that comes with a solid moral center.
October 19, 2015
Now that I am finished with James Bond I will start my way through the Zatoichi boxed set but I have no interest in maintaining as strict a time table here. Tales, the first film, was good. At times it is beautiful. Shintaro Katsu is spectacular as the title character, a blind swordsman. The first movie is somewhat formulaic of an Asian period film so my mind wandered several times. Two yakuza bosses hire swordsmen to help them to overthrow the other. The swordsmen befriend each other and are forced to duel when the war between clans erupt. I am interested to see how the next 22 films are and when they start to slag.
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.
July 23, 2015
The Tale of Zatoichi is a great introduction fo the character of Ichi or Zatoichi. It shows the audience his skill, his mind set, gives some backstory, and gives a good overall impression of the man that is the blind swordsman.
The film is rather old so it's not surprising that many of the scenes are shot more like they are part of a stage play rather than a film set and the action sequences aren't very plentiful nor very convincing.
Where this film truly shines is in the story being told. Two gangs, two master swordsman, truly dispicable yakuza members, a love struck beauty, gambling, all combine to form the backbone of a tale of honour and code versus greed and selfishness.
There are many messages and morals one can take away from The Tale of Zatoichi. The blind swordsman is true to his word, a master without sight, knowledgeable, kind, honest, desired and yet feared at the same time.
Do not take Zatoichi lightly or try to take advantage of him... it may be the last thing you do.
½ June 21, 2015
A dramatic tale of warring clans that pits two master swordsman against each other.
½ June 17, 2015
Yes, this is the film that launched a 25+ year series and a later remake by Takeshi Kitano. Shintaro Katsu became a superstar playing the blind swordsman who (much like Kurosawa's Yojimbo of the previous year) finds himself in the midst of a gang war. Zatoichi doesn't openly set one side against the other but he knowingly facilitates their mutual destruction while forming a fast friendship with the putative other side's hired gun (who is dying of consumption). Katsu nicely embodies the lead and the film looks stunning in black and white widescreen but this film is straightforward and mainstream in comparison to Kurosawa's more creative and inspired film. (Later, Zatoichi and "Yojimbo" would meet in the 1970 episode of the former's series, after Mifune and Kurosawa had their falling out). I have a feeling this series could make for enjoyable comfort food.
February 19, 2015
The Tale of Zatoichi would begin the world's longest action movie franchise, perhaps even the longest film franchise. The incredible feat is having the same actor, not replacing him every once in a while. This film introduces us to the popular blind swordsman, for a plot that mixes friendship, greed, and honour in a very Yojimbo-esque type story. Some of the subplots drag the story down, but its still an entertaining debut for the famous swordsman.
October 24, 2014
Thoughtfully paced, and ultimately very suspenseful tale of yakuza, a ronin hired for an impending conflict, and the blind swordsman who is caught in the middle of the melodrama. Shintaro Katsu is magnificent in the title role, a character he would play in 26 movies and a 4 year television run. If aliens landed and asked to see one film about samurai, you'd show them this (or Seven Samurai).
½ April 12, 2014
Amazing! Simple story and unique characters.
December 12, 2013
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.
December 11, 2013
Starting another samurai series with Zatoichi. In his first film, there's not much going on. Not much action also. Even the main antagonist is not as interesting as Zatoichi's character. The side plots from minor characters overpowers Zatoichi's story. It's even similar to Kurosawa's storyline in 'Yojimbo'. However the real strength of the film lies in Zatoichi's character. A blind swordsman, gambler and a yakuza too, is not something you see in samurai films. In this film, we learn more about him and his back story, also his devious attitude. With that, I'll continue with his series of films.
November 27, 2013
Very impressive first installment!
Super Reviewer
November 27, 2013
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!
July 3, 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.
May 25, 2013
If you're here for an action movie, find another flick. But if you're into character drama, this is a samurai movie that's likely to appeal to you.
May 18, 2013
The first in the long-running series is charming in its human drama and exciting in its action. Very cool film.
December 5, 2012
Fantastic movie, Shintaro Katsu is absolutely amazing.
Not to mention that this movie was an inspiration to the ''blind swordsman'' genres.
½ August 8, 2012
There's nothing about The Tale of Zatoichi that is particularly outstanding. The physical performance by Shintaro Katsu is commendable but it's difficult to determine whether or not he was brilliant or just awkward. It's a fine line. The story, the camerawork, and pretty much everything else is rather ordinary though. It's a decent chanbara film but the action isn't full-on non-stop and the other aspects of the film doesn't impress. Although, there are a couple remarkable moments.
Super Reviewer
½ July 31, 2012
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.
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