Friday, August 22, 2014

Zatoichi's Cane-sword (1967)

Zatoichi :  Shintarô Katsu

Director : Kimiyoshi Yasuda

IMDb : 7.7

Grade :   A-


The movie opens with Zatoichi finding a dying man on the side of the road. He has a sword in his hand and says his name is Ashikaga. Then he dies. Zatoichi then strikes down a crow that flew at him and says "That is not a good omen."

Zatoichi rides in to Tonda with some performers. There is a new boss in town, Iwagoro, and he is charging the performers for their space. he is also taking a cut of their profits. Boss Shotaro Ashhikaga has been killed as his daughter Shinzu now works at an inn.

Zatoichi gets involved in a crooked dice game and as usual, cheats the cheaters. He wins 8 ryo. He is followed by some gangsters. While he is eating noodles, Zatoichi slashes his attackers down. A man at the food. Senzo, stand insists that Zatoichi come home with him. The man in a blacksmith and used to be a sword smith. He recognizes Zatoichi's can sword as having been made by his mentor who was a master swords smith.  He tells Zatoichi that the sword has reached the end of its life span. Zatoichi gives him the sword.

Zatoichi takes on a job as a masseur at the inn where Shinzu works. He meets another lady who tells him that Inspector Kuwayama will soon be coming to stay at the inn.

Senzo tells Ichi that Senzu is really his daughter. Boss Shotaro just did him a favor and adapted her when she was young. To repay him Shinzu worked for 10 years on a sword, but then Shotaro got killed. Iwagoro wants the sword but Shinzu is determined to give it to Shinzu's brother Seikichi.

The gamblers finally catch up to Ichi but he was able to take care of them with his cane.

Iwagoro comes to the inn and turns the rooms he reserved in to gambling dens with girls. The inn keeper, Genbei,wants them out but Iwagoro refuses. He then hits Genbei. Ichi returns to the gamblers and places some bets. He exposes the dice rollers as cheaters. Iwagoro now knows that he must be Master Zatoichi, whose fame is spreading.

Zatoichi sits down and drinks with Iwagoro and even performs a song for him and his guests.

Iwagoro's man kills Seikichi to make sure he doesn't take over his slain father's territory. Shizu is sent for by Inspector Kuwayama, and Ichi goes to get her back. Ichi goes to Senzo to get his blade, even though it will probably only work for one more kill, and then it will snap. Senzo's sword has been stolen and he dies in Ichi's arms.

Kuwayama ends up with the sword and Iwagoro also has Shizu for him. Ichi goes in with his cane sword. Kuwayama begins to molest Shizu and Ichi walks through the door. Ichi kills Kuwayama and his sword doesn't break. He discovers that Senzo switched the broken blade in his cane with the new blade he had been working on. Kuwayama had the broken blade.

Ichi is attacked by a large group of Iwagoro's men but he chops them all down. he then goes and gets Iwagoro. His new sword works good.

This segment had a lot of story line  common to the Zatoichi stories. A corrupt official in league with the Yakuza, a woman who has fallen from high rank now in need of protection, a hired sword ronin involved in a showdown with Ichi.

A very good entry in the series.

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