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|A legendary blind samurai takes on local crime barons in a small village.
|'Zatoichi' is a very strange film starring the Japanese superstar Takeshi Kitano. This guy is a jack of all trades in Japan, appearing on TV and film, producing, writing and directing his own stuff. You may recognise him from 'Battle Royale', he's the school teacher. This film is a bizzare concoction of comedy, dance routines, slapstick and extreme violence. Who could ask for anything more from a film that this? Of course with a movie that's trying to be so many things, it risks becoming a master of none and degenerating into a mash of incoherent plots. 'Zatoichi' manages to juggle these different types of storytelling around with class, the opening scene is a good example. Our hero is confronted by a group of samurai, but instead of the usual precision fighting we expect from such master swardsmen the first to draw his sword manages to accidently nick the arm of the guy next to him with his blade. A brief school yard style argument breaks out. The majority of the sword fights are not the long protracted encounters of cinema, but flurries of steel that last mere seconds. This leaves much more time for the plot and characters to develop without relying on swordplay for entertainment. Be prepared for plenty of weirdness though, tap-dancing peasants, a fat insane wannabe samurai child and a big all-singing all dancing finish may not be to everyone's tastes.