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Zatoichi sekisho yaburi
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by Brian McKay

"Zatoichi Vol. 9: Adventures of Zatoichi"
4 stars

Although not a standout in the ZATOICHI series, ADVENTURES OF ZATOICHI proves itself a consistently entertaining entry. While this particular installment is a bit light on the body count, it has everything else that you watch a ZATOICHI movie for - humor, dazzling swordplay, and pretty Japanese women in equally pretty kimonos.

As Zatoichi (Shintaro Katsu - who else?) enters a village that is preparing for the New Year's festival, he inadvertently becomes acquainted with two young women - one who is looking for her missing father, and the other who is trying to help her brother escape the law after he has killed a man. But upon learning that the brother has in fact killed the missing father of the other girl, (after being ordered to do so by a corrupt government official and then being locked up for it), Zatoichi is determined to raise a little cane (and the sword he keeps tucked inside of it) on the official, the local yakuza boss he is in cahoots with, and any of the thirty or so men who happen to get in his way.

Meanwhile, he befriends a pair of young acrobats who end up helping him out and spying on the bad guys for him, sort of like a Japanese version of the Baker Street Irregulars. He also makes the acquaintence of a drunken old man, whose story bears a great deal of similarity to that of Zatoichi's long-missing father.

As usual with these movies, there is some rival swordsman who thinks he's good enough to take out the blind masseur, and as usual, he finds out that he's wrong the hard way - on the sharp end of a sword. And there's also the hint of a romance brewing between Zatoichi and the girl with the missing father. But above all, there's some ass kicking. Granted, he barely even takes his sword out of the cane until the end, but when he does, it's on. There are also a few moments of pathos - he may be a blind killing machine, but he's got a heart, dammit!

While not the most memorable of the series, ADVENTURES OF ZATOICHI delivers the goods - which is more than I can say for the somewhat disappointing KILL BILL VOLUME 2.

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originally posted: 04/20/04 12:22:04
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  02-Feb-1964 (NR)



Directed by
  Kimiyoshi Yasuda

Written by
  Shozaburo Asai
  Kan Shimozawa

  Shintarô Katsu
  Miwa Takada
  Eiko Taki
  Kichijiro Ueda

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