Zatoichi’s Revenge (1965)

This tenth instalment goes into darker territory with forced prostitution as one of its themes, but Zatoichi is in a serious mood to right wrongs with several well-choreographed fight scenes in store.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Dir. Akira Inoue
1965 | Japan | Action/Adventure/Drama | 83 mins | 2.35:1 | Japanese
Not rated (likely to be PG13)

Cast: Shintaro Katsu, Norihei Miki, Mikiko Tsubouchi
Plot: After Zatoichi learns of his sensei’s murder he uncovers a horrible conspiracy involving the local government and crime family.
Awards: –
Source: Kadokawa

Accessibility Index
Subject Matter: Moderate
Narrative Style: Straightforward
Pace: Normal
Audience Type: Slightly Mainstream

Viewed: Criterion Blu-ray
Spoilers: No

This was the only ‘Zatoichi’ movie that Akira Inoue had been asked to direct, so it is quite a surprise that he didn’t land more gigs because Zatoichi’s Revenge is a pretty good entry in the series to me. 

This tenth instalment sees Zatoichi wandering about again, but when he chances upon a familiar bridge, he decides to cross to visit an old teacher whom he hasn’t seen in more than a decade. 

However, after learning of his mysterious murder, and seeing the deceased’s daughter held in a brothel run by the corrupted local town clan leaders, he decides to take revenge. 

“I don’t know who sent you, but you only get one life. You should guard it more carefully.”

The story goes into darker territory than ever before with forced prostitution as one of its themes, and certain scenes of abuse of women by men in power can feel like they are going a tad overboard inasmuch as the series is considered sufficiently mainstream. 

Zatoichi’s Revenge sees Shintaro Katsu in a serious mood to right wrongs and for extended sections of the film, in particular its climax, we are treated to several well-choreographed fight scenes. 

One of the film’s most memorable characters is a little girl whose father is an expert in deception during high-stakes card games.  Zatoichi’s human connection with her and her father helps to lighten the tone of the picture as the duo’s narrative becomes tangled with the brothel’s politics. 

Grade: B+


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