January 4th, 2012: Zatôichi kyôjô-tabi aka Zatoichi the Fugitive (1963)

Cast and Crew:Tokuzo Tanaka (Director); Kan Shimosawa (Story); Masaichi Nagata (Producer); Akira Ifukube (Composer)

What It’s About:  Zatoichi (Shintaro Katsu), the wandering blind swordsman/gambler/masseuse, discovers that there is a price on his head after a would-be assassin attacks him at a sumo match.  While dying, the assassin asks Ichi to find his mother, and the honorable masseuse travels to find her.  When he arrives, Ichi gets tangled up in land disputes that have turned deadly, rivalries within the local Yakuza, and finds his long-lost love Tane (Massayo Banri).

Why Watch it Today?:   Louis Braille was born on this date in 1809. Just like last year, we’re celebrating with an entry in the Zatoichi series whose 26 films, four season TV series and remake with two sequels in the last decade make Zatoichi one of the most long-lived blind characters of all time.  Zatoichi the Fugitive features all the elements that make Zatoichi films enjoyable to watch and is my favorite entry in the series.

Where to Get It:  Available from Netflix (DVD) or watch Zatoichi the Fugitive now on Hulu

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2 comments on “January 4th, 2012: Zatôichi kyôjô-tabi aka Zatoichi the Fugitive (1963)

  1. sakara says:

    thanks to hulu, i saw a bunch of these movies for free, and then got 2 of them for cheap off amazon.

    they’re fun, but they all (?) have the same business of zatoichi winning at dice, not wanting to fight and then killing a couple dozen people at once, and then off into the distance at the end like shane.

    • professormortis says:

      Well, Zatoichi is hardly the only series with a formula, but it is certainly evident in all of the ones I’ve seen.

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