Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi (Takeshi Kitano)

Absorbing the rain through blind eyes.

Film Review Archive (date seen: December 20, 2010)

Being titled solely as "Zatoichi" (or "The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi"), I'm actually quite surprised to the numerous story arcs that director (and star) Takeshi Kitano has instead put his focus on, turning the eponymous masseur into some sort of a natural force on the side rather than a vulnerable hero on the center of it all. Takeshi Kitano was quite good as the title role, and considering that he's the chief villain in "Battle Royale", his 180 turn (I can't say it's 360 as Zatoichi wasn't a full-blown romanticized hero) as the mysterious wandering swordsman was impressive.

The film's plot was very "Yojimbo-like", not just because of the warring gangs and all, but mainly because it's the main element that meagerly puts Akira Kurosawa's works before into slight criticisms as being "too western". There's not much danger in the fight scenes, as there's no need to really root for Zatoichi because we, the audience, already know that he'll always come out of sword fights unscathed and clean as an obsessive compulsive man on an extreme episodic fit (a little of a "Blackadder" hang-over on that particular simile). I'm also glad that there's a great amount of comic relief in the film because it might have gone a little too grim without some of the needed laughs.

"Zatoichi" was a good film and meritorious for not taking its violence too seriously, but yes, the fights were great, the laughs were spot-on, but do we really need that final dance sequence?


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