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Japan 2003
produced by
Masayuki Mori, Tsunehisa Saito for Office Kitano, Saito Entertainment, Asahi National Broadcasting Company, Bandai Visual, Dentsu Inc, Tokyo FM Broadcasting
directed by Takeshi Kitano (= Beat Takeshi)
starring Takeshi Kitano (= Beat Takeshi), Tadanobu Asano, Yuko Daike, Taka Gatarukanaru, Saburo Ishikura, Ittoku Kishibe, Yui Natsukawa, Michiyo Ogusu
screenplay by Takeshi Kitano (= Beat Takeshi), based on a short story by Kan Shimozawa, music by Keiichi Suzuki


review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Always make sure of DVD-compatibility !!!
19th century Japan: Zatoichi (Takeshi Kitano), the blind masseur & master swordsman, arrives at a village plagued by gangwars & protection money rackets. Wanting nothing but to be left in peace & to do some gambling as a pastime (he always wins, he soon finds shelter at the house of a poor farmwoman whonm he helped, & soon finds associates in form of a somewhat dim-witted gambler and 2 geishas (one of them actually a man in disguise) wanting to avenge the murder of their parents. But he also finds a mortal enemy in form of ronin Tadanobu Asano, the only swordsman with fighting skills matching his own, & is thus sucked into the turfwars of the city - a war which he in the end of course wins, slaying almost anybody remotely associated with the fighting gangs, & of course ronin Tadanobu Asano, too. The avenging geishas also get their revenge, by the way.


As the director of this retelling of the Zatoichi saga is Takeshi Kitano, it is of course every bit as bloody as you would expect from a Japanese Chambara-movie, but Kitano would also show his cinematic eye with some beautifully shot & choreographed scenes (& I don't mean the fight scenes, which are rather standard), culminating in a big musical number (!) in the end. Also, Kitano's other career as a comedian would shine through in  some great nonsense scenes ever so often interrupting the rather somber onscreen goings-on.

For the actor Kitano, Zatoichi rather seems a logical continuation of much of the characters he portrayed in his earlier movies, who were very often stoic & violent lone wolf characters in the first place - even though shades of legendary Zatoichi-series starring Shintaro Katsu (playing the character in 25 movies from 1962 to 1973, a tv-series & a revival movie in 1988, directed by himself) are shining through.

In all, despite travelling much-treaded grounds, a great auteur-movie from Takeshi Kitano (although his trademark seaside-scenes are completely absent here), & an ironic but not insulting look at chambara-cinema. Zatoichi-purists will love to hate this movie though !


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD