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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Zatoichi the Blind Swordsman, Vol. 6 - Zatoichi and the Chest of Gold
Zatoichi the Blind Swordsman, Vol. 6 - Zatoichi and the Chest of Gold
Home Vision Entertainment // Unrated // April 29, 2003
List Price: $19.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by J. Doyle Wallis | posted May 1, 2003 | E-mail the Author
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Between 1962 and 1974 there were 25 Zatoichi films made. A final, sort of anniversary, revisionist Zatoichi film was made in 1989. Add to that a successful television series, and , obviously, with that many hours of entertainment devoted to one character, what was created was nothing less than a beloved cultural icon. Set in the age of rouge samurai, Shintaro Katsu stars as Ichi, a blind masseur, gambler, a gangster, lady charmer, and deadly swordsman... Zatoichi and the Chest of Gold (1964, aka. Masseur Ichi and the Chest of Gold, Zatoichi's Thousand-Ryo Neck) is the sixth film in the series. Click on the following links for reviews of the previous films: The Tale of Zatoichi, Tale of Zatoichi Continues, New Tale of Zatoichi, and The Fugitive, and On the Road.

Zatoichi has traveled to a small village in order to pay respects to a man he regrettably killed when he crossed paths with the swordsman during a raging battle a year ealier. He arrives on the eve of the townspeople being in high spirits. It seems that the village had suffered through a drought and now was finally able to pay its taxes to the cruel local lord. But as the cache of gold is being transported, it is stolen by hired thugs and Ichi is implicated in the theft. In order to prove his innocence and that of Chuji, a gangster friend on the area, Ichi agrees to investigate the matter and find the towns gold. Of course, at the heart of all of the problems is a corrupt lord and his gang, including some hired swordsmen, including one deadly whip-wielding man who bears no fond feelings for Ichi.

Considered one of the better films in the series. Well balanced amounts of action, comedy, and drama with the enigmatic swordsman at the center and Shintaro Katsu's always engaging performance. Some of the better moments of comedy include Ichi bedding a smelly prostitute and his mischievousness in a bathhouse with a lovely young woman. Probably one of the first Zatoichi films to show a little more gore, though it doesn't rival the notorious Lone Wolf and Cub films that would come a few years later. And, on that note, the villain of this film, the whip cracking swordsman for hire Jushiro, is played by Tomisaboro Wakayama who would play the title character in that series. Directed by Kazuo Ikehiro, who also did a couple of Sleepy Eyes of Death films as well as a couple more Zatoichi's.

The DVD: Home Vision Entertainment

Picture: Anamorphic Letterbox. Some wear and tear is present. A bit too grainy. A bit too dark. Could be sharper. But it is still pretty darn good, and certainly, considering the films age, I'm sure much worse prints are floating around and Home Vision did a decent job with this transfer. If you are a samurai/foreign film fan, you should be fairly pleased with the job they have done. A little dirt and age wear never hurt anyone. I am certainly very pleased and, when it comes to older films, I don't expect every film to get full scale remastering. I just want a decent enough print with a technically smooth transfer and that is what Home Vision delivers.

Sound: Mono Japanese language with optional yellow English subtitles. Well, the soundtrack does show its age. Its not the most dynamic track and there are some hisses and pops, but nothing a fan of this era of films shouldn't expect. Its still good, as is the nice new subtitle translation.

Extras: Chapter Selections- Trailers for Zatoichi On the Road, Flashing Sword and Chest of Gold- Liner Notes- Fold Out Poster Replica. Like the trading cards in the previous releases, a really nice touch showing how Home Vision is aiming at fans, giving them an added little extra.

Conclusion: Once again Home Vision delivers. They are releasing the bulk of the Zatoichi films, and so far they continue to impress delivering decent prints at a very nice price with the added bonus of attractive packaging and nice extras like trading cards or, in this case, poster replicas.

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