The Video Vacuum (thevideovacuum) wrote,
The Video Vacuum
thevideovacuum

ZATOICHI THE FUGITIVE (1963) *** ½

After winning a wrestling tournament, Zatoichi (Shintaro Katsu) is attacked by an inexperienced swordsman looking to collect on a reward. Zatoichi quickly dispatches him and then goes to inform the boy’s mother (a member of the yakuza) that he killed her son. She thanks him for being so honorable and declines any sort of retaliation. But of course, wherever Zatoichi goes, trouble follows, and pretty soon, he becomes caught up in a power struggle between rival yakuza gangs.

Zatoichi the Fugitive probably has one too many subplots for its own good. And the fact that Zatoichi spends a lot of time playing matchmaker to an innkeeper’s daughter doesn’t exactly help. But the terrific samurai action (in the impressive finale, Zatoichi takes out about 100 dudes singlehandedly) and yet another great performance by Shintaro Katsu make up for the occasional lulls in the pacing.

Another plus is that Otane (Masayo Benri) makes a welcome return to the series. Zatoichi’s complicated relationship with her, which grows even more complicated now that she’s shacked up with a rival samurai, is interesting and she makes for a much better romantic interest for Zatoichi than the gal in the last movie. And Zatoichi’s ensuing duel to the death with the samurai over her affections is one of the series’ best swordfights.

AKA: Zatoichi, Crazy Journey.

Tags: action, sequel, z, zatoichi series
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