Older, wiser but still a wandering loner, the blind, peace-loving masseur Ichi seeks a peaceful life in a rural village. When he’s caught in the middle of a power struggle between two rival Yakuza clans, his reputation as a deadly defender of the innocent is put to the ultimate test in a series of sword-slashing showdowns.
User Reviews: The best of the Zatoichi series, with Shintaro Katsu appearing very spry for someone who was almost sixty at the time. If you watch expecting non-stop swordfight pyrotechnics, you’re going to be disappointed — although there are several spectacularly choreographed swordfights, especially the massacre at the climax as well as some surprisingly bloody gore (it should be remembered Katsu produced the Lone Wolf and Cub movies starring his real-life brother, Tomisaburo Wakayama). This is very much a saga type picture, with blind masseur Ichi approaching elderly status but still wandering the backroads of 1860’s Japan, gambling and being pursued by bounty hunting yakuza and lone wolf killers. One of the rewarding things about the film is that Katsu encounters old friends like beachcomber Norihei Miki. He also befriends a destitute artist samurai (Ken Ogata) who is conflicted by the bounty on Ichi’s head but dismayed because fatalistic, wisecracking, warmhearted Ichi is the only person he can relate to! There are many other great character actors here such as pockmarked Yuya Uchida as one of the craven yakuza bosses. Katsu’s real-life son, Takanori Jinnai appears as the scarfaced young upstart rival boss out to take control of the whole territory. A beautiful film that is very poetic and poignant as well as being exciting. Very evocative of the period, unlike many other samurai films made since the mid-80s, and, in my opinion, far superior to Akira Kurosawa’s final samurai pictures, KAGEMUSHA and RAN. Contrary to one of the other reviews here, this is anything but a mishmash of elements from earlier entries.