offoffoff film
 RELATED PROJECTS

      







 ADVERTISEMENT













Site links
  • OFFOFFOFF Home
  • About OFFOFFOFF
  • Contact us

    Get our newsletter:
     
    Search the site:
     

    Film section
  • Film main page
  • Film archive
  • Audio index
  • Film links


    Top 10 lists


  • Top 10 films of 2004
    (Andrea, David, Joshua, Leslie)
  • Top 10 films of 2003
    (Andrea, David, Joshua, Leslie)
  • Top 10 films of 2002
  • Top 10 films of 2001
  • Top 10 films of 2000
  • Top 10 films of 1999
  •  All of our top 10 lists, 1999 - 2004

    Current movies


  • Afterschool
  • Antichrist
  • Babies
  • Broken Embraces
  • Dare
  • District 9
  • The End of Poverty?
  • Fix
  • Food Beware
  • The Men Who Stare at Goats
  • Pirate Radio
  • Precious
  • Red Cliff
  • The September Issue

    Festivals


  • Brooklyn International Film Festival
  • Human Rights Watch Film Festival
  • New York Film Festival

    Archive


    Complete archive

    Recent reviews:
  • (500) Days of Summer
  • Anita O'Day: The Life of a Jazz Singer
  • The Art of the Steal
  • The Beetle
  • Blessed is the Match: The Life and Death of Hannah Senesh
  • Boy A
  • Brideshead Revisited
  • The Brothers Bloom
  • Burn After Reading
  • Cold Souls
  • The Duchess
  • Elegy
  • Enlighten Up! A Skeptic's Journey Into the World of Yoga
  • Five Minutes of Heaven
  • Flame and Citron
  • Frozen River
  • Happy-Go-Lucky
  • How to Lose Friends & Alienate People
  • The Human Condition
  • Hunger
  • Inglourious Basterds
  • King of Shadows
  • The Lemon Tree
  • Lorna's Silence
  • A Man Named Pearl
  • Man on Wire
  • Memorial Day
  • Mister Foe
  • Morning Light
  • My FĂĽhrer
  • My One and Only
  • Paris
  • The Pervert's Guide to Cinema
  • Peter and Vandy
  • Police, Adjective
  • Pray the Devil Back to Hell
  • Profit Motive and the Whispering Wind
  • Rachel Getting Married
  • A Secret
  • Sleep Dealer
  • St. Trinian's
  • Thirst
  • Throw Down Your Heart
  • Valentino: The Last Emperor
  • What's the Matter with Kansas?
  • Wild Grass
  • Jay DiPietro

  •  REVIEW: ZAT™ICHI

    Zat™ichi

    Larry, Curly and Kitano

    Beat Takeshi's "Zatoichi" is no ordinary samurai slash-'em-up — it features a blind swordsman at the center of a saga with a surprisingly silly side.

    By DAVID N. BUTTERWORTH
    Offoffoff.com

    "The ancient sages said, 'Do not despise the snake for having no horns, for who is to say it will not become a dragon? So may one just man become an army.'"

      
    ZAT™ICHI
    Written and directed by: Takeshi Kitano.
    Adapted from novels by: Kan Shimozawa.
    Cast: Takeshi Kitano, Michiyo Ookusu, Gadarukanaru Taka, Daigor™ Tachibana, Yuuko Daike, Tadanobu Asano, Yui Natsukawa, Ittoku Kishibe, Saburo Ishikura, Akira Emoto, Ben Hiura, Kohji Miura.
    Cinematography: Katsumi Yanagishima.
    Edited by: Takeshi Kitano, Yoshinori Oota.
    In Japanese with English subtitles.

    Related links: Official site | Japanese site | All of David N. Butterworth's reviews at Rotten Tomatoes
     RELATED ARTICLES
    Festival Internacional de Cine Contemporaneo
    (Mexico City)
    Bus 174
    Haute Tension
    In Your Hands
    Machuca
       Memories of Murder
    Naqoyqatsi
    Notre Musique
    Or (My Treasure)
       Sideways
    Tarnation
    Triple Agent
    Vera Drake
    Zatoichi


    • Official site
    So pondered the introduction to "The Water Margin," a short-lived Japanese television series from the mid-Seventies that cult Japanese director Takeshi Kitano ("Brother," "Fireworks," "Sonatine") seems to be paying direct homage to with his latest film, "Zat™ichi" (or "The Blind Swordsman: Zat™ichi," as it's currently circulating).

    The character of Zat™ichi has permeated Japanese cinema for the past 40 years via a vast assortment of some 20-odd films. But none as odd as this one!

    Part Three Stooges, part "Seven Samurai," Zat™ichi is the film Quentin Tarantino tried to realize with the one-two sucker punch of Kill Bill. Kitano's film, while not without its flaws, reaches a level that Tarantino's does not. For all its anonymous bloodletting and martial-arts mayhem, there's an innocence and surprising silliness to it, a goofy charm that flows from its colorful characters to its offbeat storyline to its syncopated score. Whereas Tarantino focused on style in his first chapter and character in volume two, with neither film feeling close to complete, director Kitano and star Beat Takeshi (one and the same person, incidentally) successfully manage to incorporate both elements in the one motion picture.

    Zat™ichi  
    In 19th-century rural Japan, a blind masseur cum Samurai swordsman, a pair of vengeful geishas, a down-on-his-luck gambler, and a skilled ronin for hire, cross paths — and swords — in a film that draws its inspiration more from Larry, Curly, and Moe's high jinks than any direct reference to Akira Kurosawa.

    At the local sake hut, skilled swordsman Hattori offers his services to a local crime boss, whose gang members delight in roughing up the locals for daily protection money. Meanwhile two young Geishas search for the men that massacred their family, and in the gambling parlor Zat™ichi's skill at dice attracts the amity of Shinkichi, who learns you have a better chance of beating the odds if you listen rather than look.

      Zat™ichi
    "Some masseur is tearing apart the gambling house!" a frightened goon informs Boss Ogi after Zat™ichi accuses the proprietor of cheating. It's one of many scenes "rated R for strong stylized bloody violence." With cane-sword drawn in retaliation, the field of battle explodes into gushing arteries of blood (think Monty Python's Black Knight) — gory but only fleetingly graphic bursts of computer-generated red that conclude as quickly as they begin.

    The film is episodic in its construct and Kitano (the director) can be accused of letting some of the quieter scenes run on longer than necessary (the geisha dance/flashback sequence being the most turgid). But as a performer he's much more centered. White-haired and contemplative, Beat Takeshi's Zat™ichi is the perfect antihero: calm and deadpan, often chuckling at some unspoken in-joke; quick and efficient when angered. The film's humor comes as a complete surprise, bordering on slapstick, especially in scenes featuring an idiot Samurai wannabe, Shinkichi teaching three youths the art of Kendo, or field workers matching the rhythms of the film's perky score. Zat™ichi even concludes on the most bizarre note possible, with the entire cast performing a spurious and comically choreographed tap dance number!

    While not for all tastes, Zat™ichi is a refreshing change of pace from your standard action fare, one that uniquely marries killer violence with whimsy, farce, and tender sentimentality. Let the Beat go on!

    AUGUST 24, 2004
    OFFOFFOFF.COM • THE GUIDE TO ALTERNATIVE NEW YORK


    Reader comments on Zat™ichi:

  • Gorgeous and Different   from Sylvie, Nov 25, 2004
  • Sharp   from Danilo, Jan 31, 2006

  • Post a comment on "Zat™ichi"