DVD Talk
Release List Reviews Shop Newsletter Forum DVD Giveaways Blu-Ray Advertise
Reviews & Columns
Reviews
DVD
TV on DVD
Blu-ray
4K UHD
International DVDs
Theatrical
Video Games

Features
Collector Series DVDs
Easter Egg Database
Interviews
DVD Talk Radio
Feature Articles

Columns
Anime Talk
DVD Stalk
DVD Savant
High-Def Revolution
Silent DVD

discussion forum
DVD Talk Forum
Resources
DVD Price Search
Customer Service #'s
RCE Info
Links

DVDTalk Info
Review Staff
About DVD Talk
Advertise
Newsletter Subscribe
Join DVD Talk Forum
DVD Talk Feeds


Sponsored Links

Search: For:
Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Zatoichi the Blind Swordsman, Vol. 2 - The Tale of Zatochi Continues
Zatoichi the Blind Swordsman, Vol. 2 - The Tale of Zatochi Continues
Home Vision Entertainment // Unrated // May 14, 2002
List Price: $19.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by J. Doyle Wallis | posted May 20, 2002 | E-mail the Author
Buy from Amazon.com
C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Recommended
E - M A I L
this review to a friend
P R I N T
Printer Friendly
Between 1962 and 1974 there were 25 Zatoichi films made. In addition to a successful television series, a final, sort of anniversary, revisionist Zatoichi film was made in 1989, making a total of 26 films. Obviously, with that many hours of entertainment devoted to one character, what was created was nothing less than a beloved cultural icon.

The Tale of Zatoichi Continues (aka. The Return of Masseur Ichi, 1962): Zatoichi, blind masseur and swordsman, is hired by the wealthy, influential Kurata House to give a massage to their lord. Zatoichi soon discovers that the nobleman is quite mad, and the family is distressed because they have been trying to keep it a secret that their head has gone insane. Fearing that the blind masseur knows too much, they send out a couple of their samurai to dispatch Zatoichi, but naturally, the blind man has them outskilled and survives. Knowing he couldn't have gone far, Kurata House hires the local gangsters to do their dirty work, find Zatoichi and kill him. Zatoichi hides out in the local brothel and quickly befriends one of the strumpets. Trouble is, a mysterious one-armed swordsman, Yoshiro, appears the brothel, and both he and Zatoichi share a past, somehow, and the same affection for the prostitute, each saying she reminds them of a former loved one... As Zatoichi makes his way out of the town and goes to visit the grave of Hirate (the samurai he defeated in the first film), the gangsters are close on his heels and out for his blood, and likewise so is the crippled samurai Yoshiro, who seems to have some unfinished business with Zatoichi.

Plotwise, the preceding, first, Zatoichi film is better, more intricate, but this second installment, with familiarity on its side, is able to punch up the action a little and be brisker in its pacing. Already in this second installment the series has an episodic feel. Singular films, yes, but by sharing the same basic structure and with most of the films having an average running time of just over 80mins, and the same central star, its almost like a 25/26 episode tv series. The story here is a bit more melodramatic, and this isn't helped by Ichiro Saito's score (the first film was scored by the underrated Godzilla/rubber monster composer Akira Ifukube), which accentuates scenes by punching in a soap opera sounding organ whine. But, Zatoichi tales are melodrama, and the films were made like they went down an assembly line. It is the characterization, humor, spurts of action, and competent direction that creates a total package. Sure, it is obvious when we see the two samurai share the same past love, and we instantly assume Yoshiro's missing arm is a product of a fight with Ichi. But such obviousness is balanced out by other scenes, such as the great black humor demonstrated when Ichi fights three gangsters- he quickly drops three of them, killing two, wounding one, which sends the remaining two men running, with no care for their wounded comrade who comically stumbles after them in a panic. And, in this film, Ichi's way with the ladies gets a real chance to shine, with the films better moments being between him and the smitten prostitute.

Perhaps the most noteworthy thing in this second film is the appearance of Tomisaburo Wakayama as the one-armed fighter Yoshiro. Tomisaburo Wakayama is star Shintaro Katsu's brother, and would most notably go on to fame as rogue samurai and former executioner Ogami Itto in the fantastic Lone Wolf and Cub film series. Here we see a nice glimpse into Ichi's past, this rival that he has obviously maimed. Yet, like the first film, he does not seek out violence, one gets the feeling it always comes to him. But, since Zatoichi is obviously capable of killing, why is this particular warrior only maimed and not stone cold dead? And, the answer is as melodramatic as the first film, having Zatoichi begrudgingly battle a terminally ill swordsman that he respects, but the sheer novelty of a blind fighter and a one-armed fighter in possible combat, two very disabled but very deadly men is with my entertainment dollar.

The DVD: Home Vision Entertainment. Second in their proposed release of the first fourteen Zatoichi films.

Picture- Letterboxed 2:35:1. B&W. Print is in good shape, consistent throughout with some minor wear, fading, and an occasional speckle, but overall quite good.

Sound- Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 Monoaural, with optional white English subtitles that are displayed within the bottom of the letterbox frame. Nice, some occasional crackle and pop in the background, but remains true to the original DIAEI presentation.

Extras- Nice liner notes, a sheet of 4 'Zatoichi Trading Cards'--- 19 Chapters--- Photo Gallery, basically just 10 film stills.

Conclusion: Fine presentation, fairly barebones, but budget priced DVD of a good film, part of a great film series. Zatoichi/samurai film fans and the curious will want to pick it up.

Other Reviews:
Popular Reviews
1. 2001: A Space Odyssey
2. Andrei Rublev: Criterion Collection
3. Superman: The Movie
4. Teen Titans Go! To the Movies
5. The Adventures of Hajji Baba
6. Creepshow
7. I Married Joan: Classic TV Collection Vol 4
8. Fire Birds
9. How the Grinch Stole Christmas: Ultimate Edition
10. Starchaser: The Legend of Orin


Sponsored Links
DVD Blowouts
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
Alien [Blu-ray]
Buy: $19.99 $9.99
8.
9.
10.
Sponsored Links
Release List Reviews Shop Newsletter Forum DVD Giveaways Blu-Ray Advertise
Copyright 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All Rights Reserved. Legal Info, Privacy Policy, Terms of Use