Zatoichi -2003 (Takeshi Kitano)
Kitano’s remake of the popular 1960’s “Zatoichi-the Blind Swordsman” series (Has a art-house flair to his version, with some major changes to the normal plot and characters, but done in a way that any true Zatoichi fan will enjoy. )he does takes big risks but largely succeeds. Kitano is a darker, more sinister Zatoichi, and the action is a lot more Tarantino-esque. The sword action is first class but extremely violent, unlike the original series which, like the vintage Westerns, were mostly bloodless affairs. Blood squirts everywhere on the scale of “Kill Bill.”
This is not the 1960s Zatoichi, who was a more light-hearted character who often avoided conflict and was even prepared to play a buffoon to avoid violence. Not so here – Kitano stalks his prey relentlessly, like the former Yakusa he was. Unlike many Samurai period pieces, there is a plot here which is serious and sad.
The unexpected bonus to this movie is the excellent musical soundtrack consisting of Taiko drumming and dancing, well worth cranking up on a home theater system. Peasants threshing rice beat out a syncopated background to a scene, and there is a big Taiko musical send up (not too different from some of the 1960s Zatochi musical numbers) at the end.