Newest Reviews
Wizard of Baghdad, The
Good Manners
Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo
Sweet Home
Big Score, The
Three Outlaw Samurai
Echoes of Fear
Guinea Pig, The
Truth, The
Good Die Young, The
Old Guard, The
Disappearance at Clifton Hill
Sullivans, The
Love in the Afternoon
Black Water: Abyss
Wild Blue Yonder, The
All Hail the Popcorn King
Muriel, or the Time of Return
Great Locomotive Chase, The
American Anthem
Lion and the Horse, The
War of the Wizards
Doctor Faustus
Spite Marriage
Mask, The
Letter to Jane
Quick Millions
Dream Demon
Max Havelaar
Glastonbury Fayre
All Dogs Go to Heaven
Shoot Out
Newest Articles
At the Hop: Mr. Vampire on Blu-ray
Divine Madness: Female Trouble on Blu-ray
Country Matters: Further Out of Town on Blu-ray
Bat-Damn: Was Joel Schumacher's Batman Really That Bad?
The Beat Goes On: Takeshi Kitano Collection on Blu-ray
Dream Treats: Scorsese Shorts on Blu-ray
It's Only Money: Laughter in Paradise on Blu-ray
A Regular Terpsichore: Dance, Girl, Dance on Blu-ray
Teenage Trauma: Baby Love on Blu-ray
The Happening: Pet Shop Boys It Couldn't Happen Here on Blu-ray
Who Watched The Watchmen?
The Golden Age of Colonic Irrigation: Monty Python Series 4 on Blu-ray
Lady of Pleasure: Lola Montes on Blu-ray
Take You to the Gay Bar: Funeral Parade of Roses on Blu-ray
Hit for Ms: Mark Cousins' Women Make Film on Blu-ray
Look Sinister: The 1000 Eyes of Dr. Mabuse on Blu-ray
Star Wars Triple Threat: The Tricky Third Prequel and Sequel
I Can See for Miles: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes on Blu-ray
Too Much Pressure: The Family Way on Blu-ray
The Alan Key: Alan Klein and What a Crazy World on Blu-ray
A Japanese Ghost Story: Kwaidan on Blu-ray
The Zu Gang: Zu Warriors from the Magic Mountain on Blu-ray
Reality TV: The Year of the Sex Olympics on DVD
The Young and the Damned: They Live By Night on Blu-ray
Mind How You Go: The Best of COI on Blu-ray
  Zatoichi meets Yojimbo sightless samurai meets roving ronin
Year: 1969
Director: Kihachi Okamoto
Stars: Shintarô Katsu, Toshirô Mifune, Ayako Wakao, Osamu Takizawa
Genre: Martial Arts, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 3 votes)
Review: Fond memories draw blind swordsman, Zatoichi (Shintarô Katsu) back to his home village, but upon arrival he finds things much changed. The village elder is a broken man, violent gangs roam the streets, and Zatoichi’s childhood sweetheart, Umeno (Ayako Wakao) has become a prostitute. Control of the village is split between scheming merchant Eboshiya and his rebellious son Masagoro, who has hired a secret weapon: the legendary, roving ronin Yojimbo (Toshirô Mifune). As both heroes squabble and size each other up, rumours that a huge stash of gold is hidden somewhere in the village prompt Eboshiya’s younger son to summon pistol-packing, contract killer Kuzuryuu. But, as Zatoichi discovers, no-one is quite what they seem.

This samurai clash of the titans came about because of a pact superstars Shintarô Katsu and Toshirô Mifune made to guest-appear in each other’s pet projects. Zatoichi Meets Yojimbo was the twentieth movie featuring Katsu as the blind gambler/masseur/swordsman (with six more and a long-running TV series still to come), while Mifune revived here the gruff, anti-hero he first played in Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo (1961) and Sanjuro (1962). The teaming of the two biggest stars in Japanese cinema drew some equally high profile collaborators, including composer Akira Ifukube (who contributes a sparse, haunting score) and writer-director Kihachi Okamoto. Okamoto is an interesting, eclectic filmmaker. Known internationally for his samurai movies (many starring Toshirô Mifune), war epic The Battle of Okinawa (1971) is commonly considered his masterpiece, but he dabbled in crime-thrillers, several wildly eccentric sci-fi films, and anime (including the feature-version of cult-kiddie-classic Battle of the Planets (1978)). His last work, the musical/comedy/samurai film, Vengeance For Sale (2001) was regrettably overshadowed by Beat Takeshi’s similar Zatoichi (2003) revival.

Okamoto’s over-elaborate plot is diffuse with symbolism (water flows between the heroes, representing division; the village elder carves statues of Jizo, the Buddha of healing, that hold an ironic surprise) and sometimes hard to follow. Anyone expecting an all-action fest may feel disappointed, but in keeping with most Zatoichi movies this is more of a character-driven, mood piece punctuated by some amusing gags. An imprisoned Zatoichi and fellow inmate fake poisoned death spasms until the prison guard lets slip they’re free to go. Yojimbo deliberately misdirects the blind man so he falls off a ledge (“Thank you, kind sir - arrgh!!”). The squeaky voice Mifune repeatedly adopts to mock Masagoro’s cry of “sensei!” is especially funny.

The script includes interesting elements like the conflict between father and son, and most of the major characters concealing their true intentions, but the real joy lies in watching Zatoichi and Yojimbo circle each other like a couple of wary tigers. The film offers a neat contrast between Mifune’s swaggering bravado and Katsu’s Chaplinesque pathos, captured in a neat bit where Yojimbo stabs Zatoichi only for him to catch the blade in its sheath. Okamoto evokes a streak of middle-aged melancholy akin to a late period western, with both heroes bonding over drinks and their shared love for whore-with-a-heart-of-gold, Umeno, but also the mutual sense of decency that sets them apart from the hired thugs. Respected actress Ayako Wakao essays a strong, Hawksian heroine, bold enough to stand up to their macho bluster.

Events culminate in a wild finale with swordsmen dropping like flies as Mifune and Katsu slash their way through samurai hordes with wild abandon. Son betrays father. The wounded stagger like zombies. It’s all quite haunting and atmospheric. The following year, Mifune served as producer for his final appearance as Yojimbo, with Katsu guest-starring as a doctor, in Hiroshi Inagaki’s Ambush: Incident At Blood Pass (1970).
Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam


This review has been viewed 4567 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film


Kihachi Okamoto  (1923 - 2005)

Veteran Japanese director who used his experiences during the Second World War to shape the outlook and tone of numerous anti-war films, such as 1959's Dokuritsugu Gurentai, and 1968's Nikudan (aka The Human Bullet). Okamoto also directed gangster pictures such as The Age of Assassins (1967) and samurai epics like Sword of Doom (1966) and Zatoichi Meets Yojimbo (1970), frequently casting the great Japanese actor Toshirô Mifune. Okamoto slowed his work-rate afterwards, but still continued to direct for TV and cinema until his death.

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu

Recent Visitors
Andrew Pragasam
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
  Lee Fiveash
Paul Smith
  Mick Stewart
Enoch Sneed
  Dsfgsdfg Dsgdsgsdg


Last Updated: