The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi

September 6th, 2003


The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi

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Still of Yûko Daike in The Blind Swordsman: ZatoichiStill of Yûko Daike and Daigorô Tachibana in The Blind Swordsman: ZatoichiChiara Caselli at event of The Blind Swordsman: ZatoichiTakeshi Kitano in The Blind Swordsman: ZatoichiStill of Takeshi Kitano and Tadanobu Asano in The Blind Swordsman: ZatoichiTakeshi Kitano in The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi

The blind masseur/swordsman comes to a town in control of warring gangs, and while bunking with a farming family, he meets two women with their own agenda.

Release Year: 2003

Rating: 7.6/10 (26,908 voted)

Critic's Score: 75/100

Director: Takeshi Kitano

Stars: Takeshi Kitano, Tadanobu Asano, Yui Natsukawa

Blind Zatoichi makes his living by gambling and giving massages. But behind his humble facade, Zatoichi is a master swordsman, gifted with lightning-fast draw and strokes of breathtaking precision. Zatoichi wanders into a town run by sinister gangs and a powerful samurai. He's destined for violent showdowns when he stumbles on two beautiful geishas avenging their parents' murder... Duels, wit and a touch of zen! Cult anti-hero Zatoichi is back in a sword-fighting adventure written, directed and starring Takeshi Kitano.

Writers: Takeshi Kitano, Kan Shimosawa

Takeshi Kitano - Zatôichi / Ichi (as Beat Takeshi)
Tadanobu Asano - Hattori Genosuke
Michiyo Ohkusu - Aunt Oume
Gadarukanaru Taka - Shinkichi
Daigorô Tachibana - Geisha Seitaro 'Osei' Naruto
Yûko Daike - Geisha Okinu Naruto
Yui Natsukawa - O-Shino, Hattori's Wife
Ittoku Kishibe - Boss Inosuke Ginzo
Saburô Ishikura - Boss Tashichi Ogi
Akira Emoto - Tavern Owner Pops
Ben Hiura - Tavern Gramps
Kohji Miura - Lord Sakai
Hideboh - Dancing Farmer (as The Stripes)
Ron II - Dancing Farmer (as The Stripes)
Suji - Dancing Farmer (as The Stripes)

Taglines: His Sword Made Him a Hero... His Courage Made Him a Legend. This Summer, Justice is Blind.


Official Website: Artificial Eye [uk] | BAC Films [France] |

Release Date: 6 September 2003

Filming Locations: Eiga-mura, Kanami, Kanae-chô, Fukuyama City, Hiroshima, Japan

Opening Weekend: $2,424,807 (Japan) (7 September 2003) (219 Screens)

Gross: $853,718 (USA) (26 September 2004)

Technical Specs


Did You Know?

The dance sequence at the end of the film features all of the villagers, but not the villains. Zatôichi, however, is not there. Writer/director Takeshi Kitano's reason for not including Zatôichi into the sequence was because he felt that Zatôichi was more of a villain.

Shinkichi: Aren't you betting?
Zatôichi: I'll just watch for now.
Shinkichi: Watch? But you're blind!

User Review



The story of the blind swordsman Zatoichi should be well known to most aficionados of Japanese cinema. I was thrilled when i heard that Takeshi Kitano (of all people) would be making a re-make of the classic series. And i was not disappointed.

The blind masseur/swordsman Zatoichi stumbles upon a lone widow when he comes walking in the countryside. He helps her carry a basket and she tells him of her problems while he is invited to stay with her. The local town is plagued by a war between different criminal factions and the protection rates are constantly going up. Soon two geishas also arrive in town with their own agenda, linked to one of the warring gangs.

Zatoichi is a beautiful film in my opinion. Everything from photography and scenery to music is exceptionally well tuned to the mood of the film. Also the action sequences are very well made, the fencing well choreographed and nicely shot. What distracted me somewhat though is the use of liquid animation for the blood. There is almost no usual fake blood in this movie, rather it's liquid animation-blood spraying when people are stabbed. This looks odd, but it's still a minor distraction.

Zatoichi feels both like a nice tribute to 60's and 70's samurai-films as well as a fresh take on the genre. Both modern and classic, which is one of the finest compliments i feel you can give a movie like this one. I enjoyed it very much and i rate it 7/10.


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