679 Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman

Discuss DVDs and Blu-rays released by Criterion and the films on them. If it's got a spine number, it's in here. Threads may contain spoilers.
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movielocke
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Re: 679 Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman

#151 Post by movielocke » Thu Sep 03, 2015 5:33 pm

Zatoichi's Conspiracy is a fitting end to the series because it is the best film in the series.

Zatoichi encounters a marker on the road that tells him he is near his hometown. He flips a coin to decide whether or not to visit and it comes up tails, so he journies home. Upon arriving at the neighboring village to his village, he greeted enthusiastically as a palanquin also whizzes into the village. After some comic misunderstandings in which Ichi thinks he is being welcomed home in style, he gives a massage to Shinbei, the businessman from the palanquin, an old childhood friend (who claims not to know him). The magnanimous fellow is paying off his village's debt of 500 ryo out of the goodness of his heart.

Ichi visits his home village the next day, searching for his old home, he encounters Omiyo. It turns out she and Ichi shared the same wetnurse, though they never knew each other. She aids him and with her grandfather (Takeshi Shimura in a small role) befriends him. Ichi stays at his old wetnurse's house, sharing it with a group of teenage delinquints. And he hears that the local magistrate is cheating the peasants with a false measure. To stir the pot further, Shinbei conspires with the magistrate and Boss Iwagoro (the local yakuza leader) to seize a valuable granite quarry collectively owned by the peasants. For an extremely long time, nearly an hour, Ichi does not draw his sword, and when he does it is at the end of perhaps the best dice gambling scene in the series. Ichi begins bullying and prodding the trio of recalcitrant bosses in a vain effort to give up their corrupt ways, but it ends, as it must, as it always ends, with Ichi drawing his sword to administer his vigilante justice--this time, in a brilliantly conceived fight that works its way inside and outside of a rice granary. It's one of the best climactic fights in the series for one of the best entries in the series.

Lovely pacing, an outstanding script, strongly drawn characters and villains all combine into a nearly flawless execution of this serial's genre and format.

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Re: 679 Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman

#152 Post by movielocke » Thu Sep 03, 2015 5:58 pm

Having finally finished the set, I might as well post how I would order the series:

01 Zatoichi's Conspiracy - # 25 --- Kimiyoshi Yasuda
02 Zatoichi's Cane Sword - # 15 --- Kimiyoshi Yasuda
03 Zatoichi and the Chess Expert - # 12 --- Kenji Misumi
04 Zatoichi Meets Yojimbo - # 20 --- Kihachi Okamoto
05 Zatoichi Challenged - # 17 --- Kenji Misumi
06 Zatoichi's Pilgrimage - # 14 --- Kazuo Ikehiro
07 Tale of Zatoichi, The - # 01 --- Kenji Misumi
08 Zatoichi and the Fugitives - # 18 --- Kimiyoshi Yasuda
09 Zatoichi's Flashing Sword - # 07 --- Kazuo Ikehiro
10 Tale of Zatoichi Continues, The - # 02 --- Kazuo Mori
11 Zatoichi's Vengeance - # 13 --- Tokuzô Tanaka
12 Zatoichi the Fugitive - # 04 --- Tokuzô Tanaka
13 Zatoichi in Desperation - # 24 --- Shintaro Katsu
14 Adventures of Zatoichi - # 09 --- Kimiyoshi Yasuda
15 Zatoichi the Outlaw - # 16 --- Satsuo Yamamoto
16 Zatoichi Meets the One-Armed Swordman - # 22 --- Kimiyoshi Yasuda
17 Samaritan Zatoichi - # 19 --- Kenji Misumi
18 Fight, Zatoichi, Fight - # 08 --- Kenji Misumi
19 Zatoichi's Revenge - # 10 --- Akira Inoue
20 Zatoichi at Large - # 23 --- Kazuo Mori
21 Zatoichi and the Chest of Gold - # 06 --- Kazuo Ikehiro
22 Zatoichi Goes to the Fire Festival - # 21 --- Kenji Misumi
23 Zatoichi and the Doomed Man - # 11 --- Kazuo Mori
24 New Tale of Zatoichi - # 03 --- Tokuzô Tanaka
25 Zatoichi on the Road - # 05 --- Kimiyoshi Yasuda

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Re: 679 Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman

#153 Post by ando » Sun Mar 20, 2016 3:02 am

Just getting into the series in my usual plodding fashion. Interesting reading here though I haven't come across any qualms about the discomfoture induced by Chikashi Makiura's odd framing (tops of heads repeatedly chopped off! - in the first installment, anyway). The interior shooting, in particular, gives you the feeling of being right in the rooms with the (presumably. - Zatoichi comments as much) filthy yakuza. The framing is so tight that initially I thought I had picked up a bad copy of the film. I put on Hulu+ to compare the formatting: same framing, in any case. Still bugs me though I must admit it's very effective In some instances.

Wonder how long and/or how many will be able to uphold Zatoichi's code of gangsters in the series. Actually, now that I recall - as soon as Zatoichi mouthed this to Sukegoro and walked away one of the scoundrels tried to stab him in the back (Is that Tate?). Scoundrels in fine clothing will apparently be running antagonists in the series...

Oh, and I just discovered that the Blu-Ray editions are the way to go -
My Ego Tripped/imdb wrote:For anyone who has the HVE dvd of this film and was always bugged by how the image seemed to over-crop and sometimes cut off the heads of characters (like the swordfight on the bridge near the end), I just purchased the new Criterion Blu-ray box set of all 25 films and this problem has been corrected. Seems the HVE edition did over crop the picture losing a small amount of information around the entire frame, I'd say between5-10% on each of the 4 sides, and since this film did shoot with images very close to the edge this cropping did have a very noticeable effect.
Anyway Blu box set looks great and is the best purchase I've made this year.
Forgive me if someone's already made the observation.
Last edited by ando on Tue Mar 22, 2016 9:40 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: 679 Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman

#154 Post by Orlac » Tue Mar 22, 2016 6:47 am

I think the framing could be the video transfer's attempt to hide the splice marks?

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Re: 679 Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman

#155 Post by ando » Wed Mar 23, 2016 2:07 am

Orlac wrote:I think the framing could be the video transfer's attempt to hide the splice marks?
I'm not sure if that was the cause for the HVE cropping but the dvdbeaver Zatoichi page has comparison stills of the two versions. The anamorphic process reveals the intended formatting absent of any marking that I can make out (then, of course, they'd have presumably cleaned any marks).
Mr Sausage wrote:While I've seen three of the later entries, this was my first time watching the inaugural entry, Tale of Zatoichi. It's a lot more melancholy than I was expecting. There are fewer action scenes (I only counted two), and the movie doesn't find anything positive in the violence. Indeed, it makes it a point to show how innocents always suffer from violence, throw-away moments of action not excepted. Zatoichi's first moment of violence, a typically superfluous scene meant to show off his skill to the viewer, ends up having some sad consequences for an innocent man who showed Zatoichi kindness. The film plainly takes itself more seriously than the later, purely escapist films.
Yes, I feared this episode would be one of the more significant in the series. It's simply beautiful to me. I can't imagine an improvement, save a more polished narrative flow/execution. Plunking down the money for the whole series is therefore a bit daunting as I expect some disapoointment in terms of content. And from what I've read the successive episodes are mostly variations on the initial tale.

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Re: 679 Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman

#156 Post by ando » Sun Mar 27, 2016 12:47 am

Well, Tales Continues turned out to be a fine follow-up to the first installment. The story opens up to reveal Zotoichi's personal life and history. The frame is often flooded with light in the outdoor scenes vs. the dark enviorns of the indoor sets of the first Zatoichi tale. It's an expansion and compliment to episode 1, to put it succinctly. Not looking forward to the color introduction with the third installment as my eye tends to focus more on minutea within the frame. I usually take as a matter of course elements incidental to objects of focus in black and white films, especially with period features. But color puts darned near everything into bright relief. Art directors, it would seem, need to work twice as hard to present something close to an authentic recreation of the time period when it's shot in color.

At any rate, I'm not sure if anyone's mentioned Shintaro Katsu turn in Blind Meance (1960, Mori) - currently on Hulu+, made a couple of years before the first Zatoichi film. It's supposedly deals with a prototypical Zatoichi figure who exhibits the baser instincts of a blind criminal. Might be interesting to explore before heading into the colored world of Zatoichi.

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Re: 679 Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman

#157 Post by cdnchris » Thu Jun 16, 2016 3:51 pm

The set is being re-released as Blu-ray only in September. Nothing yet about a DVD-only version.

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Re: 679 Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman

#158 Post by Finch » Thu Jun 16, 2016 5:22 pm

Not happy about this unless the Blu-only set stays the same dimensions as the dual format.

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Re: 679 Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman

#159 Post by cdnchris » Thu Jun 16, 2016 5:26 pm

I can't say but if it still has the book I'd imagine the dimensions would be the same, except slimmer since there are fewer discs.

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Re: 679 Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman

#160 Post by Finch » Thu Jun 16, 2016 5:28 pm

I honestly wish they'd done this last year. Grrr.

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Re: 679 Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman

#161 Post by Luke M » Thu Jun 16, 2016 6:55 pm

I think I'll finally bite on this now - during the fall B&N sale.

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Re: 679 Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman

#162 Post by Orlac » Thu Jun 16, 2016 11:25 pm

The awkward cardboard packaging gave my set scratches on the discs.

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Re: 679 Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman

#163 Post by Mr. Romberg » Sun Jun 19, 2016 6:04 pm

I'd re-buy this if they use slimmer packaging with smaller dimensions this time. If it the same size as the 27-disc set I will not. It may look handsome, but it is an extremely awkward and unnecessarily large package that is too bulky to fit on a blu-ray shelf.

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Re: 679 Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman

#164 Post by movielocke » Thu Jun 23, 2016 1:52 pm

I notice the 1989 zatoichi is on hulu, so looks like I will get to finish off the series.

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Re: 679 Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman

#165 Post by Mel » Tue Feb 06, 2018 4:35 am

I'm watching the Zatoichi movies and I noticed some actors or parts of the movies are out of sync. It's only slightly but it is noticible. I can't find any information about this. Are the actors, or some, post looped? Right now I'm watching Zatoichi and the Doomed Man but I saw it with other movies as well. I hope someone can shed some light on this.

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