Genre: Action/ Drama/ Swordplay/ Martial Arts/ Comedy
Director: Kimiyoshi Yasuda
TRASH CINEMA RECOMMENDED MOVIE
Here we have yet another strong entry in the Zatoichi series.
The New Year is approaching in Japan, a time of celebration and new beginnings. Zatoichi (Shintarô Katsu) is making a pilgrimage to Mount Myogi, where he hopes to feel the rays of the sun on his face on New Years day.
In the village below, various performers have gathered to entertain the populace. But they are horrified to learn that Boss Jinbei has raised his take of their earnings from 20% last year to 40% this year, and it’s too late to go anywhere else. Even worse, there is no hope of appealing their case because Intendant Gorota Kajima (Akitake Kôno), the local government bigwig, is in cahoots with Boss Jinbei (Kichijirô Ueda).
Meanwhile, Saki (Miwa Takada), the daughter of the headman of Ota Village, has come to town, looking for her father. He disappeared on the way to Edo, where he was going to complain to the government about the corruption of Boss Jinbei and Intendant Gorota Kajima.
Needless to say, for fans of the series, Zatoichi becomes involved in the conflict through no effort of his own.
I’ve made the story sound somewhat complex, and there is a lot more to it, but Adventures of Zatoichi is so beautifully written by Shozaburo Asai that it goes down as smoothly as eggnog.
As always, the production values and actors’ performances are terrific.
But what I really love about the Zatoichi series is the filmmakers’ embrace of the complexity of human beings. There is little black and white thinking here. Zatoichi says at one point “Children may be the only ones who can show their face to the sun without shame.” But that isn’t quite true because only compassionate people with a conscience like Zatoichi feel shame for their misdeeds. There are those whose idea of a well lived life preclude self examination. But even those people might have children and care for them. It’s all very perplexing.
I don’t want to say a whole lot more about the movie, so you can discover it for yourself. Rest assured that, like many other Zatoichi flicks, Adventures of Zatoichi is entertaining, exciting, and makes you think.
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