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157 of 158 found the following review helpful:
A Zatoichi starter set Sep 20, 2006
By Zack Davisson
Zatoichi is an institution in Japanese film, almost like James Bond or Star Trek films, but with the difference that the same actor has played the main character since the series inception, and with an amazing consistency of quality from the original film in 1962 through the final installment, #26, in 1989. Shintaro Katsu played many roles in his life, but in the minds of hearts of everyone who loves samurai films he will always be Zatoichi.
This boxset contains seven DVDs, all from the tail end of the Zatoichi series when Katsu had taken over the production duties on the series. They are all quality films, with "The Festival of Fire" and "Zatoichi meets Yojimbo" being among the best of the entire run. Its a great price for seven DVDs as well, which would cost much more if bought individually.
For those starting out with Zatoichi, the films are diverse enough to give a good feel for the flavor of the series. Funny films and serious films, they all have the charm and appeal that only Shintaro Katsu could bring to the table in a samurai action film. And this is some seriously cool samurai action. Katsu was a great actor, and a great swordsman as well.
The films in this collection are:
Zatoichi #16 - the Outlaw - A complicated story with a vast cast of characters. Directed by Satsuo Yamamoto, who also made the 1968 ghost story "Botan Doro."
Zatoichi #20 - Meets Yojimbo - A highly anticipated showdown between Zatoichi and Toshiro Mifune playing his famous Yojimbo character. Directed by acclaimed samurai film master Kihachi Okamoto, best known for "Sworld of Doom" and "Kill!"
Zatoichi #21 - The Festival of Fire - Considered one of the best entries in the series, directed by the original Zatoichi director Kenji Misumi.
Zatoichi #22 - Meets the One-Armed Swordsman - Zatoichi meets his Chinese counterpart, Wang. Directed by Kimiyoshi Yasuda, who also made the original "100 Monsters: Great Yokai War"
Zatoichi #23 - At Large - A more humorous flick, Zatoichi delivers a baby! Directed by Kazuo Mori, who also made "The Return of Daimajin."
Zatoichi #24 - In Desperation - Directed by Shintarô Katsu, Zatoichi himself, this is a darker, more disturbing entry.
Zatoichi #25 - Conspiracy - Zatoichi meets his long-lost sister. A guest appearance by Takashi Shimura of "Seven Samurai." Also directed by Kimiyoshi Yasuda.
52 of 55 found the following review helpful:
Justice--blind and deadly May 19, 2005
Zatoichi is great entertainment-and this set collects seven of the best episodes-though I've yet to see any episode that wasn't highly entertaining. Played by Katsu Shintaro, blind (zato) Ichi is a master swordsman who wanders Japan dispensing justice from his sword which he carries in his walking cane. Along the way he earns money as an "Anma" or "Masseur" and as a gambler.
It may sound wierd--but it's top flight entertainment--and historically, the blind in Japan were taught to be masseurs by trade. There's just a perfect blend of drama, action and comedy in these movies to keep things interesting at all times. Nowhere near as bloody as movies like "Lone Wolf"--the fight scenes are very well done--and there's just a little blood and gore thrown in now and then. Katsu Shintaro is just fantastic in this role-and though I also like him as "Hanzo the Razor"-he plays the role of Zatoichi to perfection.
If you're not familiar with Zatoichi--or if you only know the blond, blind Zatoichi from Takeshi Kitano--give this a try--unless you have a hang up with subtitles--you're sure to be pleased!
The seven movies in this set are "Zatoichi the Outlaw", Zatoichi meets Yojimbo" (with Mifune}, "Zatoichi meets the One Armed Swordman", "Zatoichi at Large", "Zatoichi in Desperation", "Zatoichi:The Festival of Fire" and "Zatoichi's Conspiracy"
69 of 76 found the following review helpful:
Collection of Zatoichi is Excellent May 15, 2005
By Sam Hobson
I got this collection without having seen a Zatoichi episode before. I was enthralled right off with Zatoichi, who is not played by Toshiro Mifune by the way, but is played by Shintaro Katsu who is also a superb actor. Toshiro Mifune appears in the episode "Zatoichi Meets Yojimbo" and does an amazing bit of swordplay when it is his character's time of confrontation.
Shintaro Katsu has an amazing ability to draw the audience into the "willing suspension of disbelief" in regards to these episodes. Some viewers may find a few of the scenes (in later episodes) to be shocking or disgusting. Fortunately, these are very rare, as are the occasional bad actors that remind us that this is not real but show business. With such things being wonderfully absent in 97 percent of the mix, this collection of DVDs is a great addition to my growing library. I have mostly Toshiro Mifune movies, and the "Spaghetti Western" flavor of this Zatoichi collection fits right in.
Some might say that Zatoichi is like the Lone Ranger or Eastwood's characters where one comes into a town, and defeats the bad guys with wits and amazing talent, dropping the jaws of the locals. Being a blind masseuse, Zatoichi has "super-hearing" much like the comic-book hero "DareDevil" and regularly does amazing feats that are very entertaining and sometimes deliberately humorous.
A really excellent bunch of movies/episodes, so 5 stars is what I give it.
24 of 28 found the following review helpful:
the goods Sep 12, 2005
By S. Mears
I'm probably too biased to review this box set in an appropriate manner. I've been a huge fan of the series for years. It would seem to me to be the equivalent of the saturday matinee idea here in the states. A well-crafted, if not absolutely top shelf, series of films. I mean this in the kindest sense. It plays more like an excellent show than, say, a Kurosawa masterpiece. But each episode is solid, no small feat given that these are the last in a 26 film series. A major shift from the first films would be the introduction of a bit more gore and sex (hey, it was the late sixties/early seventies). This may add or detract, depending upon sensibilities. I dig it. Highly recommended.
11 of 14 found the following review helpful:
A Great Deal--Highly Recommended Feb 26, 2007
By D. Zoll
As others have noted, the Zatoichi movie series is a classic--outstanding and immensely enjoyable. This collection is a good value. The DVD reproduction seems to be first-rate (each movie looks better than I remember seeing it decades ago), and the subtitles are very well done: Not only are the translations good, but they appear below the wide-screen picture rather than on top of the scene. Occasionally there's even a little note displayed above the picture defining a term, such as "palanquin" ('kago' in Japanese).
I have one small complaint. Each of the 7 movies is individually shrinkwrapped with 3 of those incredibly annoying antitheft stickers. I paid good money for the collection, so why am I treated like a potential thief and made to waste time every time I open one? That's just plain rude. I could have used Zatoichi's help getting the DVDs open for the first time, and had he decided to pay a call on the packagers, I wouldn't have tried to stop him.
Warning: This collection is a hook. Once you see all 7 movies, you'll want to see the other 19, and individually they'll set you back a good deal more. Oh, well!
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