The theme of the ‘father figure’ dictates the narrative of this decent 9th instalment of the ‘Zatoichi’ series.
Dir. Kimiyoshi Yasuda
1964 | Japan | Action/Adventure/Drama | 86 mins | 2.35:1 | Japanese
Not rated (likely to be PG13)
Cast: Shintaro Katsu, Miwa Takada, Eiko Taki, Kichijiro Ueda
Plot: Zatoichi helps a young woman track down her missing father.
Subject Matter: Moderate
Narrative Style: Straightforward
Audience Type: Slightly Mainstream
Viewed: Criterion Blu-ray
Kimiyoshi Yasuda returns to direct his second ‘Zatoichi’ movie (after Zatoichi on the Road, 1963) in this 9th instalment of the long-running series.
It is more of the usual after an interesting detour in the previous film, Fight, Zatoichi, Fight (1964), where the theme of fatherhood is foregrounded.
Here in Adventures of Zatoichi, the theme of the ‘father figure’ takes precedence instead, no different than some of the earlier iterations, but it propels the narrative for most parts.
Zatoichi is tasked to pass on a message to a woman living in a nearby town but gets caught up in the problems of another woman along the way, whose father, a village headsman, has suspiciously gone missing.
“Children may be the only ones who can show their face to the sun without shame.”
As the poor townsfolk get ready to usher in the New Year, they are forced to pay the conniving magistrate a hefty 40% from their sales.
Zatoichi once again has to right wrongs and channel his swordfighting skills in the name of justice. There is an incendiary character, a restless young samurai, who wants to challenge Zatoichi to a fight as well.
But what makes Adventures of Zatoichi a bit different is that through his journey, Zatoichi becomes a pseudo-father figure to two acrobatic-performing boys, while at the same time, chances upon an older man who reminds him of his long-lost father.
Much of the action comes toward the climax in the dead of night. It is far from being a great ‘Zatoichi’ movie but remains a decent and serviceable offering.