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Zatoichi Meets Yojimbo
cast: Katsu Shintaro, Mifune Toshiro, Wakao Ayako, and Takizawa Osamu

director: Okamoto Kihachi

115 minutes (12) 1965
widescreen ratio 2.35:1
Warrior DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 7/10
reviewed by Jeff Young
This is the first in a long series of about two dozen films concerning a wandering Japanese hero, Zato-ichi, the blind swordsman, an uncannily proficient medieval warrior who doubles as masseur when times are hard - which they always are for this disabled, yet quietly philosophical, champion of the oppressed.
   A tale of quarrelsome ur-Yakuza gangs, a hidden stash of stolen gold, and archrivals in love, in an ever changing world, Zatoichi Meets Yojimbo sees our sightless hero (brilliantly played by Shintaro) at odds with the mercenary bodyguard of a ruthless gambling racketeer in what used to be a peaceful village. Exploitation of poor workers by the crooked bosses drives Zatoichi to wreck the evil overlord's scheme, but even his kung fu mastery can't prevent a street war, and things take a turn for the worse when a gun-toting assassin is called in to settle things once and for all...
   Stumbling about and feigning incompetence, the humility and humanity of Zato-ichi is never in doubt. Yet when the fighting starts he's a tricky opponent, and seemingly unmatched even by professional killers. Although this martial arts action drama may seem a bit tame by today's slice 'n' dice standards, the violence is that much more compelling because it's supported by worthwhile characters, and a strong plot.
   Apart from the widescreen format, this DVD has coloured subtitles, which help link dialogue to the bustle of characters in some scenes, biographies of the star and director, stills and artwork gallery, and six Warrior label trailers.
Go to review of:  Zatoichi's Pilgrimage.