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GreenCine Movie Talk
In The Theaters
I just saw it and boy does it...
318

Zat˘ichi: Blind Swordman Comming To A Theater, Not Near You
Topic by: minordv8
Posted: June 3, 2004 - 3:26 PM PDT
Last Reply: June 22, 2004 - 8:05 AM PDT

author topic: Zat˘ichi: Blind Swordman Comming To A Theater, Not Near You
minordv8
post #1  on June 3, 2004 - 3:26 PM PDT  
So I was in the Bridge Theater the other day and I saw a postcard for the new Zatoichi flick that stars Takeshi Kitano (Beat Takeshi) as the blind swordman. Naturally I was stoked, but the film wasn't going to premier until July. The film is actually already a year old. I hate when films from Japan take forever to make it to the area. But then I remembered that Japan Video in Japantown usually carries films from Japan well before they make it to the theaters around here. I found this out with the Cowboy bebop movie. Apparently, subtitled version of most of the films from the major studios are released in Japan (not sure why this is but I'm guessing there's a substantial market for these films in Japan by Gaikokujin or non-native speakers?) and Japan Video imports most of it's rental stock from outside of the US. So guess what they had a copy of the movie already. SCORE!

Zatoichi is one of the old samurai serial dramas that originated in the 60's with Shintaro Katsu who perfected the iconoclast hero as flaccid and sometimes comical wanderer, traveling from village to village selling his services as expert masseur and offering a few words of wisdom to those that deserve it and a few strokes from his hidden sword to those that deserve it even more. The best of this series was the crossover film with a great duel between Shintaro's Zatoichi and Toshiro Mifune's Yojimbo. I don't remember much about the story of this film but the swordplay was kickass. That's usually the way it is with these films.

The New Zatoichi is pretty much the same fare except that Kitano adds his usual or unusual poignancy in character and situation development. Each of the main characters have, through some sad circumstance, found themselves in a small village where feuding gangs have brought death and despair to the hapless villagers. Blah, blah, blah. Enough about plot. The true essence of the film is the hacking and slicing of body parts into sashimi and this flick has the feeling of an all-you-can-eat buffet. The use of CGI effects for most of the cuts and blood-sprays are obvious but done with a great style of lighting and staging that you can't help but say "ouch! Sucks to be that guy."

One interesting part of the film is the final festival sequence, where an entire stage production and dance sequences turns into a kind of "it's all just for fun" exclamation to end the film on. I say it's interesting only because last month during the SFIFF I saw another current Japanese film about Yakuza warfare that ended in a similar manner (Get Up!) I checked the credits and noticed that the same dance group choreographed and performed in each film. I think this must be some kind of trend in Japanese films where, like in a stage play, you'll see the lead actors gather on stage and take bow after the final curtain. Not sure how I feel about this trend but in this case the dancing was good and the final scene with Zatoichi was classic Beat Takeshi so I can't complain.

Check It Out One Time Won't Ya!

Highlights:
Great subplot of the ronin bodyguard and the bokken-wielding samurai who disgraced him (but it's not that well developed. I had to watch it twice to catch real story.)
The cane-spear splitting swordplay where Zatoichi peels through the spear, the hands holding the spear and then the guy's chest. nice!
Another Takeshi moment where the gambler Shinkichi tries to teach a group of neighborhood boys how to accurately stage a sword fight with strikes in the right sequence to match his blocks (They don't get it). Ha!
underdog
post #2  on June 7, 2004 - 11:55 AM PDT  
Can't wait to see this one!

For me, it'll have to be in the theaters. That DVD you found is, I assume, a non-region 1 or 0 disc? Anyway, don't expect GC to carry such discs, not with MouseaMax cracking down with cease and desist orders.

I'll be seeing it in the theater... but again on DVD I hope. Great write-up about it, minordv! Many thanks.


C of GC
JBellows
post #3  on June 7, 2004 - 5:30 PM PDT  
I was lucky enough to see it. It really and truly is an art house action movie, a true samurai masterpiece. I dont recommend seeing this film loaded but if you are, remember to laugh at the right places, ie, the painted eyes. You'll understand when you see.

> On June 3, 2004 - 3:26 PM PDT minordv8 wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> So I was in the Bridge Theater the other day and I saw a postcard for the new Zatoichi flick that stars Takeshi Kitano (Beat Takeshi) as the blind swordman. Naturally I
Eoliano
post #4  on June 7, 2004 - 6:14 PM PDT  
> I was lucky enough to see it. It really and truly is an art house action movie, a true samurai masterpiece. I dont recommend seeing this film loaded but if you are, remember to laugh at the right places, ie, the painted eyes. You'll understand when you see.

Thanks for the spoiler warning! I'll keep my eyes closed during the &%$@?# sequence so I'll be sure not to laugh in the wrong place.

Btw, I'm almost certain it's booked to play here next month, so, yeah, I'll get to see it in a theater near me...
Shaky
post #5  on June 7, 2004 - 8:43 PM PDT  
They're running trailers for it in the some of the art houses here in DC. I feel pretty certain we'll get it, since we have FIVE multiplex theaters here in the DC metro area that primarily run independent and foreign films upon their first US release. That doesn't include the museum theaters and the AFI Silver Theater. Foreigns and independents are so popular here that even a few of the mainstream theaters regularly set one house aside for an independent film.

As much as I tend to dislike the people in this region, they do support independent film, so they must not be all bad. Although they also have to be reminded, sometimes rudely, not to talk during the movies. Especially in the art houses. Discussion time is after the movie, idiots. And yes, there will be morons sitting in Zatoichi who just can't wait 'til they get outside to demonstrate their Zatoichi knowledge to everyone within earshot.
Eoliano
post #6  on June 8, 2004 - 7:12 PM PDT  
> They're running trailers for it in the some of the art houses here in DC. I feel pretty certain we'll get it...

If the trailer is playing all over the DC area then I would consider that a certainty. It was listed as coming soon here in the Palm Springs area which has only two independent cinemas so I'd deem myself lucky if that's so, on the other hand, things change...
minordv8
post #7  on June 22, 2004 - 8:05 AM PDT  
BTW: The copy of the film that I rented from Japan Video was actually on VHS so no region code worries. Unfortunately I don't have a region free player but that's definately on my wishlist to santa. ;P


> On June 7, 2004 - 11:55 AM PDT underdog wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> Can't wait to see this one!
>
> For me, it'll have to be in the theaters. That DVD you found is, I assume, a non-region 1 or 0 disc? Anyway, don't expect GC to carry such discs, not with MouseaMax cracking down with cease and desist orders.
>

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