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Criterion's 25 film Zatoichi Boxset includes the film here, Zatoichi's Pilgrimage, in it's first ever State-side release on home video. What a great and rare treat as this 14th film in the Zatoichi sage is another great entry and features several great set pieces and plenty of impressive swordplay and skill shown throughout. The bandit who wields a bow makes for some fun battle scenes with Ichi as well and only adds to the depth of battle choreography. One of the better films in the Zatoichi film set and a great new addition here in the U.S.!
A very good Zatoichi tale that owes a lot to High Noon. The film starts on a boat and has Zatoichi being the only man to stand up against a wallet thief. It ends in the thief losing a hand. After the boat hits land, Zatoichi vows to not kill again, and promises to visit 88 temples until he receives some answers to his questions. This doesn't last long and he is soon attacked, resulting in his attackers death. In a sweet, weird and comical scene, Zatoichi is led to the mans hometown by the horse of the deceased. He is attacked again but in a first he fails to hear the attack coming, or just chooses not to act. As the story progresses and a mob boss attempts to take over the town, it becomes apparent that, once again, only Zatoichi will stand up to injustice. There's a fantastic shot that zooms in on him and we see the frustrated realisation on Katsu's face, that he will have to kill again. The finale is very brutal, you actually fear for Zatoichi's safety. He doesn't have the upperhand anymore. It's one of the best choreographed fights in the series, and the action feels ahead of it's time. This does not feel 43 years old. This really empthasises Zatoichi's loneliness and makes for yet another bittersweet ending.
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