Zatôichi (The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi) (2003) - Rotten Tomatoes

Zatôichi (The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi)2003

Zatôichi (The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi) (2003)



Critic Consensus: Colorful, rich with action and wonderfully choreographed, Takeshi Kitano takes on the classic samurai character with his own brand of cinematic flair.

Zatôichi (The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi) Photos

Movie Info

A sightless samurai in 19th-century Japan helps two sisters get revenge on the gang that murdered their parents. Cult director and star Takeshi Kitano's revival of the long-running Japanese series is a kinetic, highly stylized piece of filmmaking. Michiyo Ohgusu, Guadalcanal Taka, Daigoro Tachibana, Yuko Daike.

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Takeshi Kitano
as Zatôichi/Ichi
Michiyo Ohgusu
as Aunt O-Ume
Daigoro Tachibana
as Geisha O-Sei
Yuko Daike
as Geisha O-Kinu
Tadanobu Asano
as Gennosuke Hattori
Ben Hiura
as Tavern Pops
Kohji Miura
as Lord Sakai
Hideboh Ron II
as Dancing Farmer
Suji Noriyasu
as Dancing Farmer
Makoto Ashikawa
as Carpenter
Tsumami Edamame
as Carpenter
Kosuke Ohta
as Carpenter
Naomasa Musaka
as Yakuza Boss on the Country Road
Shoken Kunimoto
as Rival Swordsman
Daigaku Sekine
as Ginzo's Henchman I
Koji Koike
as Boss Funahachi
Koji Kiryu
as Dice Dealer at Funahachi's Joint
Taiki Kobayashi
as Funahachi's Bodyguard
Ayano Yoshida
as Young O-Kinu
Taichi Saotome
as Young O-Sei, aka Seitaro
Kanji Tsuda
as Playboy at Home
Ikki Goto Spinwake
as Kuchinawa Underling 1
Yoshio Nakamura
as Kuchinawa Underling 4
Hiroaki Noguchi
as Kuchinawa Underling 5
Shinichi Nakatsu
as Kuchinawa Underling 2
Toru Yonezu
as Kuchinawa Underling 4
as Tavern Customer 4
Al Kitago
as Farmer Boy 1
as Farmer Boy 2
Tsutomu Takshige
as Farmer Boy 4
Ganbino Kobayashi
as Farmer Boy 5
Sammy Moremore Jr.
as Farmer Boy 6
as Farmer Boy with a Spear
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News & Interviews for Zatôichi (The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi)

Critic Reviews for Zatôichi (The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi)

All Critics (126) | Top Critics (37)

This film is a shebang, a full-scale show, complete with everything you would happily pay to see: costumes, tattoos, scratchy folk music, gambling in saki dens. You will eat it up.

December 19, 2017 | Full Review…

The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi begins life as a straight-up samurai movie, evolves into a slapstick comedy and ends as a rousing, tap-dancing musical.

May 27, 2011

Zatoichi is a mix-and-match crowd-pleaser that shouldn't add up, but delightfully does.

November 1, 2007 | Full Review…
Top Critic

However improbably, Kitano pulls it off quite gloriously. Admittedly, this isn't one of his most idiosyncratic, innovative or, indeed, satisfying works, but it's without doubt fast, funny, fabulous to behold.

February 9, 2006 | Full Review…

For those unfamiliar with such films, Zatoichi might be a little off-putting. But given a chance, the movie can be pretty entertaining.

September 30, 2004 | Rating: 3.5/5

This isn't arty violence, just violence, and pretty pedestrian for a samurai picture.

August 27, 2004 | Rating: 2/5

Audience Reviews for Zatôichi (The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi)


It is easier to appreciate this very fine samurai film due to its formal rigor (especially with such a great cinematography and score) than to enjoy it, since its narrative structure suffers from being a bit overplotted and has too many characters in constant fight for screen time.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

By all means, I am no fan of the genre of the Samurai swordsman, but I can still expect more than slow story-telling, wooden acting and unfunny slapstick. It doesn't help that the swords, wounds and the gushing blood are computer animated and you see it. Sure, the film doesn't take itself too seriously, but it's still plain boring at times. Given the mostly positive reviews I expected a lot more but this did not work for me on any level. Maybe it's the Western world viewing expectations, maybe it's me. Maybe the film is just crap, though. I gave up after an hour.

Jens S.
Jens S.

Super Reviewer


'Beat' Takeshi Kitano made his name as a standup comedian before entering into cinema with a surprising array of serious and very violent roles. Here he tries to recapture the successful character who was a popular figure in Japanese film & television throughout the 1960's to the 1980's. Nineteenth-century blind nomad known as a gambler and masseur is also a lightning-fast master swordsman who stumbles into a town run by gangs and a powerful samurai. When he meets two geishas who are out to avenge their parents' murder, the fireworks begin. I've never seen the very successful series of films or television program of which this is based upon, so i'm not in a position to compare but it doesn't hinder the enjoyment of this visceral yet playful bloodfest. Kitano stages the whole yarn in a very theatrical style, with extremely exagerrated bloodletting, combined with an excellent soundtrack to fit with the rythmic moments and movements from the characters, like workers plowing the fields or rain pattering off an umbrella. It's beautifully shot and really captures the ingriguing Japanese culture with several stunning shots. As much as I admire the almost mystical and stoic tradition of the Japanese, I'm not the biggest Samurai fan, so the whole thing worked for me only to a certain degree. However, if your a fan of swordplay, then this will be right up your kimono. There's no denying the visual style throughout this serene yet kinetic bloodbath. It's like an eastern spaghetti western, but if your not interested in the genre then harikari may be a better option for you.

Mark Walker
Mark Walker

Super Reviewer

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