Kimiyoshi Yasuda's ZATOICHI AND THE FUGITIVES
Movie review by Dennis D. McDonald
This is the first Zatoichi movie I have seen. It follows the blind swordsman and masseur as he enters a poor village beset by thieves and corruption. Via a series of swift and violent action sequences he defends the good guys against the bad. Along the way he touches the lives of the villagers in unexpected but positive ways.
The story is clear, the characters are well defined, and the action sequences through modest are swift and often brutal or shocking. The movie is graced by the presence of the great Takashi Shimura as the kindly but troubled local doctor.
The movie is never boring. It is a real pleasure to watch a very human hero with almost superhuman skills do his righteous thing as singlehandedly he metes out justice.
Another movie I saw this week was Solo: A Star Wars Story. I can't help but compare the two. Solo is a decent action flick but compared witth Zatoichi and the Fugitives it is bloated, over-long, and at times boring. It bends over backwards to blend in as many references to other events and characters as possible, often to the detriment of concentrating on the main story.
I found myself being much more engaged with the Zatoichi characters despite its modest scale. I never felt bludgeoned by eye candy or special effects gadgetry. Obviously a "blind swordsman" could never do the things that Zatoichi does. Nevertheless, if you are willing to buy the hair-breadth escapes and coincidences of Solo, you should have no difficulty with what Zatoichi does to a sake bottle!
Review copyright (c) 2018 by Dennis D. McDonald. Thanks to my brother in Arizona for introducing me to Zatoichi!