5.0 out of 5 stars A Zatoichi starter set
Zatoichi is an institution in Japanese film, almost like James Bond or Star Trek films, but with the difference that the same actor has played the main character since the series inception, and with an amazing consistency of quality from the original film in 1962 through the final installment, #26, in 1989. Shintaro Katsu played many roles in his life, but in the minds of hearts of everyone who loves samurai films he will always be Zatoichi.
This boxset contains seven DVDs, all from the tail end of the Zatoichi series when Katsu had taken over the production duties on the series. They are all quality films, with “The Festival of Fire” and “Zatoichi meets Yojimbo” being among the best of the entire run. Its a great price for seven DVDs as well, which would cost much more if bought individually.
For those starting out with Zatoichi, the films are diverse enough to give a good feel for the flavor of the series. Funny films and serious films, they all have the charm and appeal that only Shintaro Katsu could bring to the table in a samurai action film. And this is some seriously cool samurai action. Katsu was a great actor, and a great swordsman as well.
The films in this collection are:
Zatoichi #16 – the Outlaw – A complicated story with a vast cast of characters. Directed by Satsuo Yamamoto, who also made the 1968 ghost story “Botan Doro.”
Zatoichi #20 – Meets Yojimbo – A highly anticipated showdown between Zatoichi and Toshiro Mifune playing his famous Yojimbo character. Directed by acclaimed samurai film master Kihachi Okamoto, best known for “Sworld of Doom” and “Kill!”
Zatoichi #21 – The Festival of Fire – Considered one of the best entries in the series, directed by the original Zatoichi director Kenji Misumi.
Zatoichi #22 – Meets the One-Armed Swordsman – Zatoichi meets his Chinese counterpart, Wang. Directed by Kimiyoshi Yasuda, who also made the original “100 Monsters: Great Yokai War”
Zatoichi #23 – At Large – A more humorous flick, Zatoichi delivers a baby! Directed by Kazuo Mori, who also made “The Return of Daimajin.”
Zatoichi #24 – In Desperation – Directed by Shintarô Katsu, Zatoichi himself, this is a darker, more disturbing entry.
Zatoichi #25 – Conspiracy – Zatoichi meets his long-lost sister. A guest appearance by Takashi Shimura of “Seven Samurai.” Also directed by Kimiyoshi Yasuda.