Zatichi (2003) aka The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi
Directed by Takeshi Kitano
Starring Takeshi Kitano, Tadanobu Asano, Michiyo Ookusu
Kitano took the dual role of acting and directing, it paid off handsomely.
So what if anything could Takeshi Kitano add to the character of Zatoichi? In all honesty not very much; he does a brilliant job of mimicking Shintar Katsu as Zatoichi, the same demeanor, the same bumbling awkwardness that you know is just an act, the same kind natured personality.
So what if anything could Takeshi Kitano add to the storyline? Again not very much, the storyline falls very much within the limits of the original series, Zatoichi comes to a town, drinks, gambles, helps those in need, takes down the local gang and has a duel with a highly trained samurai.
So why is this the best Zatoichi film bar none?
One very simple reason, Takeshi Kitano. This is Takeshi Kitanos Zatoichi from start to finish, the humour (which Ill come back to) the use of rhythm both musical and physical, the directing, the editing, pretty much everything.
Going back to the humour, I was very lucky to see this in a cinema with my sons and some Japanese students, girls and boys, we laughed most of the way through the film, strange thing is though; it was only our group that was laughing, I think most of the audience missed out on the humour for some reason!
As "A" said, Haven't seen Kitanos, because he himself said it was his most commercial film, so I wasn't really interested. I have no doubt this is his most commercial film especially as far as a Japanese audience is concerned, but that doesnt take away the fact that this is an extremely entertaining well made film with Kitanos stamp all over it.
The tap dancing finale is a treat!
Tadanobu Asano is the guest Samurai opponent. In Japan he is a huge star often compared in terms of status to Johnny Depp. His other films include:
Last Life in the Universe
Ichi the Killer
Hes also a singer in a rock band.
Michiyo Ookusu has been acting since 1966 and starred in Zatoichi's Pilgrimage as well as many other films.
All in all a very entertaining film.