Written by Films

Zatoichi

Zatoichi is directed by and stars Beat Takeshi Kitano. Well, he’s Beat Takeshi the actor Takeshi Kitano the writer/director.
Most of Takeshi’s work makes it through to the west one way or another, but this is probably one his better pieces that I’ve seen. The story is set in 19th century Japan with Takeshi playing The Masseur, a blind man who’s cane doubles as a razor sharp sword which he’s not afraid of using. Meanwhile there are two “Geisha girls” seeking revenge for the death of their family. This all involves plenty of fights and lots of CGI blood. The latter seems very strange, and near enough none of the blood you see on screen is “real”, but computer graphics. In that respect it’s like the blood you get in a zombie computer game – lot’s of it when you shoot a bad guy, but it immediately disappears.
Philip French, in the Observer, said that it’s as good as, and probably better than Crouching Tiger or Kill Bill. I don’t think I’d agree. The “ballet” in both of those films surpasses anything you see here, and the story’s not that amazing. In actual fact, the best thing in the film is the music (seemingly unavailable in the west, although a Japanese soundtrack is available). In particular there are sequences which involve percussion performed by extras in-vision, and a great tap dance sequence with which the movie ends. In fact, I paid a trip to HMV on my way home to see if I could pick up a Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers DVD – none were available in the Trocadero branch. Looks like I’m going to have to hunt out this box set.
Oh and it was only when I looked him up on IMDB that I realised that this really is the same man behind Challenge TV’s Takeshi’s Castle!