On his travels, blind swordsman Zatoichi stumbles across a massacre and takes in a small boy who witnessed the event. When the killers come looking for him, Zatoichi and family friend Wang Kong or “the one-armed swordsman” pledge to defend the child at all costs.
Although this instalment in the long-running franchise has a rather gimmicky premise, its combination of frenetic action scenes and an atmospheric historical setting makes for a good, solid samurai movie. Shintaro Katsu shifts from affable booze hound to intimidating bad ass with the greatest of ease; the scene when he rescues a local girl from the assassins is fantastic. Despite its attempt to ape the master, it’s no Akira Kurosawa as technical limitations mean a couple of scenes are so dark it’s difficult to tell what’s going on and the moral message at the end felt forced.
But as a whole it’s a very enjoyable blood & katana flick that won’t disappoint fans of the genre.