Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Zatoichi's Flashing Sword (1964)

Zatoichi :  Shintarô Katsu

Director Kazuo Ikehiro

IMDb : 7.4

Grade :   A-

The movie opens with Zatoichi chopping down some flies who were bothering him to the amazement of some local thugs. A great opening. 

Zatoichi is then shot in the back by a young yakuza looking to make a name for himself. Zatoich is fished out of the water by a young woman, Miss Kuni, and her helper. 

After he recovers Zatoichi travels to Miss Kuni's home to thank her and do some chores to repay her.

When the local yakuza find out Zatoichi has survived they decide they will take him out to make a name for themselves. Everyone wants to make a name by killing Ichi,

Local gangsters extort money from a small dojo, but Ichi just happens to be there and teaches them all a lesson with wooden swords.

Ichi finally gets to Miss Kuni's home and eats some rice.

Kuni's father, Bunkichi,  is a local yakuza who controls a ferry river crossing. Another rival boss, Yasugoro, wants the crossing for himself so he can raise the tolls and make more money.

Zatoich chases off some guys watching a lady bath, and we find out that the masseur trade was made up of blind people and the word zatoh means people who are blind. 

Zuni's brother, Seiroku, comes home after a years absence, and it turns out that he is the one that shot Zatoichi. He was trying to make a name for himself with his yakuza father. 

Yasugoro makes his move and chases Bunkichi's men away from the river. Yasugoru has hired a travelling ronin, Tengen, to help him. Seiroku went down to the river to complain but Yasugoro's men go back and tell Bunkichi that his son attacked boss Yasugoro. They tell him he has three options : fight Yasugoro one on one, turn off the ford or have his son be tortured to death

Meanwhile the yakuza looking to make a name for themselves, and revenge their slain boss, find Ichi at a river. They surround him, and the scene that is in every Zatoichi movie takes place. But this time Ichi goes deep in to the water and fights there. He goes under water and slashes below the water as the blood spurts out and the men go down.

Zatoichi pays Yasugoro a visit and chops his sword in half. he tells him he doesn't act like a gangster should act but instead swaggers around. Ichi then frees Seiroku.

Bunkichi gets a letter from the intendant that he is going to resolve his problem with Yasugoro. He goes over to Yasugoro's but the intendant is not there. Yasugoro tells Bunkichi who Zatoichi really is, and tells him he might tell the intendant that he is harboring the fugitive. Bunkichi tells Ichi he has to leave.

Zatoichi heads down the road. With Zatoichi gone, Yasugoro makes his move and attacks. Yasugoro's men kill Bunkichi's men and then kill him. 

Zatoichi comes back and hears what happens. He then confronts some of Yasugoro's men and chops them down, including Tengen.  He then goes looking for Yasugoro. When he finds him he starts taking out his men, and takes out the candles along the way so he can have an advantage. 

Ichi then chops Yasugoro down as fireworks go off in the background. 

A very good entry in the series.

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