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Zatoichi Royaburi

Zatoichi the Outlaw
The Blind Swordman's Rescue / Zatoichi Breaks Jail / Zatoichi 16

Japan 1967
produced by
Masaichi Nagata (executive) for Katsu Productions/Daiei
directed by Satsuo Yamamoto
starring Shintaro Katsu, Rentaro Mikuni, Ko Nishimura, Yuko Hamada, Toshiyuki Hosokawa, Takuya Fujioka, Kenjiro Ishiyama, Tatsuo Endo, Manabu Morita, Mizuho Suzuki, Jun Katsumura, Gen Kimura, Kanae Kobayashi, Kayo Mikimoto, Ikuko Mori, Utako Kyo, Koichi Mizuhara
screenplay by Koji Matsumoto, Takehiro Nakajima, Kiyokata Sarukawa, based on a short story by Kan Shimozawa, music by Sei Ikeno

Zatoichi, Daiei's Zatoichi, Zatoichi (Shintaro Katsu)

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Arriving at a new village, blind swordsman Zatoichi (Shintaro Katsu) soon hooks up with gangland boss Tomizo (Tatsuo Endo), only to soon learn he is relieving the local peasents of all their money in his gambling houses, and drives them into debt to get his hands on their land and wives. But then there's also gangland boss Asagoro (Rentaro Mikuni), who acts sympathetically towards his peasents and even pays their debts with boss Tomizo. Plus, he is apparently in league with swordless ronin turned agriculturalist Ohara (Mizuho Suzuki), who teaches the peasents how to farm better and tries to make them stay away from gambling, drinking and whoring. Even though Zatoichi himself has nothing against gambling, drinking and whoring, he is impressed by Ohara but also of Asagoro, and slaughters boss Tomizo's gang as a favour to them. Out of gratitude, Asagoro gives Zatoichi money that should last him for a year and sends him on his way ...

Wandering through the country, Zatoichi tries to follow Ohara's lead and not draw his sword anymore, but death just seems to follow him around. Then he finds Shino (Yuko Hamada), a girl from Asagoro's village, sold to a brothel, and he learns that since he has gone, Asagoro has pretty much taken over the city with official Suga's (Ko Nishimura) blessing, and Ohara has been thrown into jail. Zatoichi returns to set the wrong he has done right, slaughters Asagoro and his entire gang, then the local peasents, inspired by his heroism, pick him up to go and free Ohara - which they succeed him, even if much more blood is shed.

Once his mission is completed, Zatoichi once again hits the road ...

 

a few nice touches in this film, including a pseudo-socialist message, but in all, nothing special, the action is average at best, the pacing often seems a bit off, and the whole thing goes on for just a bit too long to remain tense throughout.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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