Zatoichi (2004)

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A wandering blind masseur with unsurpassed skills as a swordsman finds himself allied with a quirky collection of misfits against a ruthless criminal gang, including a brother and sister impersonating a pair of geishas and an unlucky would-be gambler.

I’m a big fan of Beat Takeshi Kitano and I love samurai movies so I was never going to dislike this film. It’s my first non-gangster piece from him and I have to say, it’s got to be amongst my favourites; the great cast of likeable oddballs feel like real people rather than resorting to the kind of contrived wackiness of many indie style films, and it has a mix of ingredients such as a wide streak of gentle humour and even a musical tap number that just don’t sound like they’d fit in with a samurai film, but somehow it works. The explosions of artful violence are beautifully done, with an inventive use of CGI to represent the gushing blood that looks like splashes of vibrant red paint against the subdued tones of Beat Takeshi’s cinematic canvas.

An inventive and beautiful looking samurai film that is a worthy successor to the heritage of Akira Kurosawa.

9.5/10

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