HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Once Upon a Time in Deadwood
Oblomov
Alita: Battle Angel
We the Animals
Ibiza Undead
Wings of Eagles, The
Beats
Body Parts
Shock of the Future, The
Friday
High Life
High Noon
Comes a Horseman
Scandal in Paris, A
Greta
Fight, The
Pink Jungle, The
Skiptrace
Double Date
Mind of Mr. Soames, The
Long Shot
Sherlock Holmes
Amazing Grace
Monitors, The
Memory: The Origins of Alien
Mesa of Lost Women
Banana Splits Movie, The
In Fabric
Sisters Brothers, The
Aniara
Flamingo Kid, The
Queen, The
Avengers: Endgame
Vanishing Act
Critters Attack!
Prison on Fire
Dragged Across Concrete
Do the Right Thing
Hellboy
Pond Life
   
 
Newest Articles
Python Prehistory: At Last the 1948 Show and Do Not Adjust Your Set on DVD
You Could Grow to Love This Place: Local Hero on Blu-ray
Anglo-American: Joseph Losey Blu-ray Double Bill - The Criminal and The Go-Between
Marvel's Least Loved and Most Loved: Fantastic 4 vs Avengers: Endgame
Battle of the Skeksis: The Dark Crystal Now and Then
American Madness: Sam Fuller's Shock Corridor and The Naked Kiss on Blu-ray
Flight of the Navigator and the 80s Futurekids
Trains and Training: The British Transport Films Collection Volume 13 on DVD
Holiday from Hell: In Bruges on Blu-ray
The Comedy Stylings of Kurt Russell: Used Cars and Captain Ron
Robot Rocked: The Avengers Cybernauts Trilogy on Blu-ray
Hammer's Bloodthirsty Bad Girls 1970: Lust for a Vampire and Countess Dracula
Hammer to Fall: Kiss Me Deadly on Blu-ray
Home of the Grave: The House That Dripped Blood and Asylum on Blu-ray
Wondrous Women: Supergirl vs Captain Marvel
   
 
  Zatoichi meets Yojimbo sightless samurai meets roving roninBuy this film here.
Year: 1969
Director: Kihachi Okamoto
Stars: Shintarô Katsu, Toshirô Mifune, Ayako Wakao, Osamu Takizawa
Genre: Martial Arts, Adventure
Rating:  6 (from 3 votes)
Review: Fond memories draw blind swordsman, Zatoichi (Shintarô Katsu) back to his home village, but upon arrival he finds things much changed. The village elder is a broken man, violent gangs roam the streets, and Zatoichi’s childhood sweetheart, Umeno (Ayako Wakao) has become a prostitute. Control of the village is split between scheming merchant Eboshiya and his rebellious son Masagoro, who has hired a secret weapon: the legendary, roving ronin Yojimbo (Toshirô Mifune). As both heroes squabble and size each other up, rumours that a huge stash of gold is hidden somewhere in the village prompt Eboshiya’s younger son to summon pistol-packing, contract killer Kuzuryuu. But, as Zatoichi discovers, no-one is quite what they seem.

This samurai clash of the titans came about because of a pact superstars Shintarô Katsu and Toshirô Mifune made to guest-appear in each other’s pet projects. Zatoichi Meets Yojimbo was the twentieth movie featuring Katsu as the blind gambler/masseur/swordsman (with six more and a long-running TV series still to come), while Mifune revived here the gruff, anti-hero he first played in Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo (1961) and Sanjuro (1962). The teaming of the two biggest stars in Japanese cinema drew some equally high profile collaborators, including composer Akira Ifukube (who contributes a sparse, haunting score) and writer-director Kihachi Okamoto. Okamoto is an interesting, eclectic filmmaker. Known internationally for his samurai movies (many starring Toshirô Mifune), war epic The Battle of Okinawa (1971) is commonly considered his masterpiece, but he dabbled in crime-thrillers, several wildly eccentric sci-fi films, and anime (including the feature-version of cult-kiddie-classic Battle of the Planets (1978)). His last work, the musical/comedy/samurai film, Vengeance For Sale (2001) was regrettably overshadowed by Beat Takeshi’s similar Zatoichi (2003) revival.

Okamoto’s over-elaborate plot is diffuse with symbolism (water flows between the heroes, representing division; the village elder carves statues of Jizo, the Buddha of healing, that hold an ironic surprise) and sometimes hard to follow. Anyone expecting an all-action fest may feel disappointed, but in keeping with most Zatoichi movies this is more of a character-driven, mood piece punctuated by some amusing gags. An imprisoned Zatoichi and fellow inmate fake poisoned death spasms until the prison guard lets slip they’re free to go. Yojimbo deliberately misdirects the blind man so he falls off a ledge (“Thank you, kind sir - arrgh!!”). The squeaky voice Mifune repeatedly adopts to mock Masagoro’s cry of “sensei!” is especially funny.

The script includes interesting elements like the conflict between father and son, and most of the major characters concealing their true intentions, but the real joy lies in watching Zatoichi and Yojimbo circle each other like a couple of wary tigers. The film offers a neat contrast between Mifune’s swaggering bravado and Katsu’s Chaplinesque pathos, captured in a neat bit where Yojimbo stabs Zatoichi only for him to catch the blade in its sheath. Okamoto evokes a streak of middle-aged melancholy akin to a late period western, with both heroes bonding over drinks and their shared love for whore-with-a-heart-of-gold, Umeno, but also the mutual sense of decency that sets them apart from the hired thugs. Respected actress Ayako Wakao essays a strong, Hawksian heroine, bold enough to stand up to their macho bluster.

Events culminate in a wild finale with swordsmen dropping like flies as Mifune and Katsu slash their way through samurai hordes with wild abandon. Son betrays father. The wounded stagger like zombies. It’s all quite haunting and atmospheric. The following year, Mifune served as producer for his final appearance as Yojimbo, with Katsu guest-starring as a doctor, in Hiroshi Inagaki’s Ambush: Incident At Blood Pass (1970).
Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 4112 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 

Kihachi Okamoto  (1923 - 2005)

Veteran Japanese director who used his experiences during the Second World War to shape the outlook and tone of numerous anti-war films, such as 1959's Dokuritsugu Gurentai, and 1968's Nikudan (aka The Human Bullet). Okamoto also directed gangster pictures such as The Age of Assassins (1967) and samurai epics like Sword of Doom (1966) and Zatoichi Meets Yojimbo (1970), frequently casting the great Japanese actor Toshirô Mifune. Okamoto slowed his work-rate afterwards, but still continued to direct for TV and cinema until his death.

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star do you think makes the best coffee?
Emma Stone
Anna Kendrick
Michelle Rodriguez
Sir Patrick Stewart
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
  Rachel Franke
Enoch Sneed
Paul Shrimpton
  Desbris M
  Derrick Smith
   

 

Last Updated: