The classic Japanese character Zatoichi, a walk softly, slice heavily blind swordsman, hits movie screens again thanks to cinematic gangster Beat Takeshi who plays our blind hero as well as directs the film. Beat fans have been soiling their panties ever since they caught wind of this production and rightfully so. Combine the strength of this character that’s appeared in over twenty films with Takeshi’s filmmaking talent, penchant for ultra-violence and wacky Peter Sellers type humor – you have a bona fide Beat Takeshi classic.
In Beat’s “Zatoichi,” the blind swordsman makes his living as a wandering masseur. We catch up with him as he comes upon a town overrun by some real evil sumbitches. Making a temporary home there, he sides with a pair of deadly sisters who are bent on avenging the death of their parents. This makes room for plenty wet and red dismemberments, slicings and dicings…and that’s where a major problem lies.
Rampant, gory violence a problem? Yep. The swordplay, while always amazing is dwarfed by the CG gore that usually follows. CG monsters in movies are bad enough, but CG gore? That’s a big no-no, especially when it looks really, really bad. Wounds don’t appear like they’re actually a part of the character they’re being inflicted upon and the ever spurting blood looks like ribbons of wet red licorice. Definitely wince inducing and a damn shame that this had to happen to an otherwise classic movie.
Other than that small bout of bithcing and moaning, the film is loaded with well-rounded, well-performed characters, including Beat who gives us one of his best acting roles as the title character. Every scene he appears in jumps off the screen. The guy’s got major fucking presence. He’s a funny bastard, too. Those who are addicted to Beat’s sense of humor will be thrilled to find it dished out here in perfectly timed spurts. There are even dance numbers for Christ’s sake. We haven’t seen entertainment like this since “The Muppet Movie.”