The first entry in the long running series is a marvel of restraint. The title character barely draws his sword in this entry yet we're kept on the edge of our seat throughout. Expertly written and directed and perfectly cast this film casts a slow burn spell on the viewer.
An exciting and surprisingly emotional first chapter in the 20 plus entry long filmic saga of Zatoichi, the blind swordsman. I had seen this before, but revisiting it to kick off a marathon of every film in the series, I was reminded of just how well made and especially well shot and performed this was. The black and white cinematography is often stunning, with more than a couple of great shots.
"Being good at fighting and killing people is nothing to brag about." I am amazed by this script, in awe of this character and flabergasted by this film's controlled cinematic space. The conflict derives from the character's deeply rooted beliefs; An action film that is greatly human, exciting and beautiful - each image appropriate for the moment, designed just enough to entice, but remain authentic. Flawless.
This samurai film has it all: Comedy, drama, action, suspense, and an underdog hero that it's easy to see why Japan loved it so much they made over 2 dozen more films. What sets it apart from other samurai films is Shintaro Katsu's believable performance and the mounting sense of hopelessness being a yakuza.
Watch 18 films in the Zatoichi series on Hulu.com just search Zatoichi or Criterion Collection. I really enjoyed it, some beautiful imagery, I loved the shot with Zatoichi and Tane with the moon in the background. Great story, great characters, good drama and action, loved the camera work also. Can't wait to view the rest of the series, Thankyou Criterion for putting them up on Hulu.