SYNOPSIS – Ichi is a blind woman who roams about town searching for her father Zatoichi with her shamisen (a three-stringed Japanese guitar), but she has exceptional sword skills with which she fights off yakuza and other villains.
Running Time – 2 hours
Language – Japanese with English subtitles
Rating – R
Ichi is the latest entry into the Zatoichi/Blind swordsman samurai saga. This time, Zatoichi’s daughter, Ichi, is searching for her father who left her as a child in the care of servants and never returned after a trip. Granted this is a significant side-step in the saga as the last Zatoichi entry featuring the versatile “Beat” Takeshi Kitano saw our hero surviving a showdown with yet another clan of corrupt samurai. At the end of that movie, Zatoichi, though wounded, manages to survive and see the villagers perform a catchy dance number. We learn that Zatoichi has died several years prior to Ichi’s quest. The flashback sequences tie everything in the movie together nicely and there’s even a well-played cameo of Zatoichi toward the end.
Haruka Ayase plays the role of Ichi with an overly-silent inner strength, speaking in barely audible clips and phrases. It can be a bit deterring at first, but through the combination of the usually elegantly choreographed fight sequences and beautiful camerawork, the film manages to pull through to the final showdown. Takao Osawa plays the cowardly bodyguard who tags along with Ichi on the journey. His inability to draw his sword during fights becomes incredibly annoying, especially in the final showdown. Seriously. This is also the second movie in the saga that uses CGI blood, which I’m not crazy about. It looks a little better than the first go-around though. Overall, if you’ve watched the Zatoichi series, then you’ll probably like this movie. For others, it might be a struggle at first, but stick with it and at the very least, enjoy the fight scenes.
ACTING – B-
DIRECTION – B
PLOT & WRITING – B-
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE – B-
OVERALL – B-