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Zatoichi (2003) - movie overview

Zatoichi (2003)

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(120 votes)
Critic Rating
(5 reviews)
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Trivia (1)
Plot Description

Original title:

Release Date
• USA: Jul 23, 2004
• UK: 19 Mar 2004
DVD Release Date
• R1: Aug 24, 2004
• R2: 22 May 2004

Official Website:
Zatoichi Website

MPAA Rating
Rated R for strong stylized bloody violence.

Running Time
1 hour, 56 minutes

Country Japan

Production Companies
Asahi National Broadcasting Company, Bandai Visual Co. Ltd., DENTSU Music And Entertainment Inc., Office Kitano, Saitô Entertainment, Tokyo FM Broadcasting Co. Ltd.

Studio Miramax Films

More info on

Other Titles
• Zatoichi
• Takeshi Kitano's Zatoichi
• The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi

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Genre: Action, Crime, Drama, Comedy, Revenge, Experimental, Martial Arts, Cult Classic

Plot: With ZATOICHI, Takeshi Kitano, best known for such gangster films as VIOLENT COP, BOILING POINT, and BROTHER, makes his first period drama, an updating of the classic Japanese character portrayed by Shintaro Katsu in movies and television from 1962 to 1989. Zatoichi is a blind samurai who shuffles from town to town, righting wrongs with his remarkable sword hidden within his cane. He is also a masseuse who likes to gamble. Kitano serves as director, writer, co-editor, and star of the film, playing the protagonist under his acting name, Beat Takeshi. This version of Zatoichi, based on the stories of Kan Shimozawa, is more violent than the earlier series, as Kitano strives to make it more realistic. He has also infused a clever sense of humor, while cinematographer Katsumi Yanagishima adds beautiful depth of field to many scenes. When Zatoichi arrives in a small town, he unknowingly walks into a classic tale of revenge, as two women plot to kill the men who murdered their family. As Zatoichi becomes more involved, an eventual showdown with young samurai Hattori (Tadanobu Asano, who excelled in Takashi Miike's very violent ICHI THE KILLER) is inevitable. ZATOICHI is thrilling filmmaking at its best, an endlessly entertaining samurai epic from a man who fully understands the genre

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 External Reviews
external linkThose who are addicted to Beat’s sense of humor will be thrilled to find it dished out here in perfectly timed spurts. There are even dance numbers for Christ’s sake. We haven’t seen entertainment like this since “The Muppet Movie.” 4/5

external linkAction-adventure, comedy, and musical – any way you slice it, Takeshi Kitano’s Zatôichi rocks. 4/5
--Nicholas Schager (

external linkArt as action, action as art: it's blood-spattered poetry. With a body count. 4/5
--Jamie Russell (BBC Films)

external linkExtremely enjoyable period samurai drama, now with added tap-dancing - featuring lashings of gushing digital blood, this should satisfy anyone still hungering for Samurai Action after Kill Bill. 4/5
--Matthew Turner (ViewLondon)

 Directed by
Takeshi Kitano
Dolls, 3-4x juugatsu, Kidzu ritan
 Written by
Takeshi Kitano
Asakusa Kid, Johnny Mnemonic, Fireworks
Kan Shimozawa
Zatôichi umi o wataru, Suruga yűkyôden: Toba arashi
Takeshi Kitano
Johnny Mnemonic, Fireworks, Brother
Tadanobu Asano
Ichi the Killer, Taboo (Gohatto), Last Life in the Universe
Michiyo Ookusu
Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart in Land of Demons, Kao, Zatôichi umi o wataru
Gadarukanaru Taka
3-4x juugatsu, Akai hashi no shita no nurui mizu, Minnâ-yatteruka!
Yuuko Daike
Fireworks, Kikujiro, Dolls
Yui Natsukawa
Mibu gishi den, The Yin Yang Master, Distance
Ittoku Kishibe
Warning, This Man Is Wild, Survive Style 5+, Seance (Ko-Rei)
 Music By
Keiichi Suzuki
Uzumaki / Vortex, Tokyo Godfathers, When I Close My Eyes

external linkA rambunctiously entertaining, eccentric combination of superfast swordplay, knockabout humour and stylish surrealism. 8/10
--Anton Bitel (Movie Gazette)



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