Skip to main content


Japan, 2004 (MIFF 2004, Regional Focus)

Director: Kitano 'Beat' Takeshi

Zatoichi Japan

'a variation on Kurosawa's Yojimbo, which became Sergio Leone's A Fistful of Dollars' Zatoichi is as good as, probably better than, Kill Bill.' -The Guardian

Winner of the audience award at the 2003 Toronto Film Festival and four prizes at Venice Film Festival, Zatoichi is an exhilarating, spellbinding cinematic rush from master filmmaker Kitano 'Beat' Takeshi (Dolls, MIFF 2003). Kitano plays Zatoichi, a blind, gambling, sword-wielding samurai, roaming the villages of 19th century Japan battling for the downcast. He happens upon a town dominated by two feuding clans, in turn fighting a third, more ruthless gang. This group, led by the barbarous Hattori (Asano Tananobu), is out to eliminate any opposition to their plans of conquest, including two newcomers, geisha 'sisters', out to avenge the death of their slain parents. The stage is set for Zatoichi to step up and fight for justice.

Employing a heady mix of bloody action scenes with moments of sly humour and knowing characterisations, Zatoichi is outrageous fun'with a final show-stopping scene that will have audiences literally dancing out of the cinema!

D/S Kitano 'Beat' Takeshi P Masayuki Mori, Tsunehisa Saitô WS Miramax Films L Japanese w/English subtitles TD 35mm/Col/2003/116mins

Kitano 'Beat' Takeshi was born in Tokyo, Japan in 1947. Films include: Violent Cop (MIFF 1990), Kids Return (MIFF 1997), Hana-bi (MIFF 1998), Kikujiro (1999), Brother (MIFF 2001).

See also...


Doppelganger (Dopperugenga) JapanDescribed by Screen International as 'Japan's cult master of bizarre mystery', Kurosawa Kiyoshi unleashes Doppelganger, an intense fusion of macabre horror, dread and ... More »


Nobody Knows (Daremo Shiranai) JapanFour siblings, ranging in age from four to 12, live happily with their mother in a small Tokyo apartment. Their circumstance is far from normal, however: the ... More »


Nine Souls Japan'a masterful work of pure kinetic energy, surreal imagery, raucous humour, eccentric characters and a driving guitar score' [director] Toyoda Toshiaki displays a unique and ... More »


Blood and Bones centres on Kim Sun-pei, a Korean migrant attempting to build a fortune in Japan. Contrary to his hopes, the Japan he encounters is a brutal world of discrimination and hard labour ... More »


Battle Royale II: Requiem (Batoru Rowaiaru II: Chinkonka) Japan'Battle Royale II is bigger, bolder and bloodier than the original.'Midnight EyeThree years after he survived the bloody mayhem in the ... More »


Get Up (Gerropa!) JapanA Japanese yakuza comedy with soul! The soul of James Brown, that is. Ageing mob boss Habara has two days of freedom left before being sent off for a five-year stretch in ... More »

Select a festival
Search The Film Archive
Browse By Director