The Tale of Zatoichi (1962)



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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.

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Critic Reviews for The Tale of Zatoichi

All Critics (7)

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

Jul 22, 2004 | Rating: B | Full Review…

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

Nov 9, 2003 | Rating: 3.5/5 | Full Review…

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

Jun 3, 2003 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

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

Sep 30, 2002 | Rating: 90/100

serves as a good introduction to the character, establishing his major traits and offering a worthwhile narrative

Aug 2, 2002 | Rating: 2.5/4

Audience Reviews for The Tale of Zatoichi

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!

Chris Browning
Chris Browning

Super Reviewer criterion has made 6 zatoichi films available on hulu! sorry, people who don't live in u.s. :(

Stella Dallas
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.

Luke Baldock
Luke Baldock

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.

danny d
danny d

Super Reviewer

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