The Tale of Zatoichi – 1962
The blind masseur Zatoichi is hired by yakuza gang-leader Sukejoro Iioka (Eijiro Yanagi) as he thinks that war is inevitable with the rival yakuza Shigezo Sasagawa (Ryuzo Shimada). Zatoichi has a distinguished reputation as a swordsman and Sukejoro thinks he is money well spent. Shigezo responds by hiring a swordsman of similar repute, Ronin Miki Hirate (Shigeru Amachi). Ichi is a meek and humble man who is commonly underestimated by common men, and looked upon suspiciously. He being a masseur, which was a
position of low regard in feudal Japan, merely increases the hostility that is shown towards him. They even try to take advantage of his blindness in a gambling den, but from early on it is clear that Zatoichi draws strength from his disability.
The only person who respects him is a fellow warrior who has a similar code of practice (Hirate). The tragedy is that the two warriors know they must fight when the war begins, but this does not stop them developing a strong bond throughout the earlier stages of the film. Hirate is eager to fight Zatoichi, as he is terminally is with consumption. Unfortunately for Hirate, as he becomes increasingly sick, Sukejoro decides to attack Shigezo. He also tells Ichi that he is no longer needed. However, as the war begins, Hirate drags himself from his bed to fight Zatoichi, and word gets to Ichi that Hirate will be fighting and that Sukejoro intends to shoot him with his rifle. Zatoichi travels to the battle to duel with his fellow dying Samurai. After the tense final fight, Zatoichi leaves Iioka and rejects the advances of Otane (Masayo Banri), who has become disillusioned with the yakuza lifestyle, to continue as a solitary wandering swordsman.