Zatoichi Challenged (1967)

  • Year: 1967
  • Released: 01 Apr 1970
  • Country: Japan
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  • Available in: 720p,
  • Language: Japanese
  • MPA Rating: Not Rated
  • Genre: Drama, Adventure, Action
  • Runtime: 87 min
  • Writer: Ryôzô Kasahara, Kan Shimozawa
  • Director: Kenji Misumi
  • Cast: Shintarô Katsu, Jûshirô Konoe, Miwa Takada
  • Keywords: samurai, katana, sword, sequel, zatoichi, jidaigeki,

Zatoichi Challenged Storyline

Ichi is staying at an inn when a woman dies. Her dying wish is that Ichi take her son to his father, an artist living in a nearby town. After arriving in the town, Ichi finds out that the father has been forced by a local boss to create illegal pornography to pay off his gambling debts. Ichi makes it his mission to save tha man and reunite the family, even though it brings him into conflict with a samurai he sort of befriended on his way to the town—Scott Hamilton

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Zatoichi Challenged Movie Reviews

Beautiful looking series entry

Saddled with one of the series more arcane plots, Zatoichi Challenged makes up for it by looking absolutely stunning. The colours are bright and crisp and full advantage is taken of the Panavision lens. Add in another great score from Akira Ifukube and you’ve got one of the best of the Zatoichi flicks.

One of the most stylistic and gripping Zatoichi films

Shintaro Katsu’s Zatoichi is such a memorable character not only because of his talent with a sword, but because he acts justly in an unjust world, even as a member of the yakuza “gangster” caste, an outcast of normal society, a nobody in status compared to a samurai; often, in fact, labeled a criminal. No one respects him for his honor, but only for his ability to kill. The world around him is based on fear, corruption and evil, and even the people that are good are invariably weak in the face of the strong and corrupt.

This Zatoichi story is unique. The blind swordsman is at a traveler’s inn with a woman and her child when the woman dies. Her dying request is that Ichi take the boy to his father. Unfortunately the father is trapped in a plot to produce forbidden images on pottery and plates — artistic renditions of women that are often hardly even suggestive, but in those days were outlawed. It is over pottery designs that much violence is to occur thanks to corrupt officials, evil yakuza, and the twisted justice of the government.

Zatoichi has often been juxtaposed with a costar acting as a foil. In ZATOICHI CHALLENGED that foil is a child on the road with Ichi. This pairing elicits just the right combination of emotion and personality from the blind swordsman, giving his character added depth and feel. It is very gratifying to see Zatoichi in a fatherly role.

Ichi deserves more empathy and respect in this film. The father-son story device, the twisted justice of the government samurai, and the stylistic energy of the film are the perfect background for what Ichi’s character symbolizes. Here Ichi is complete; an excellent protagonist.

The final battle scene takes uncommon form — the added effect of the snow alone makes it magical. It is more stylistically shot than most Zatoichi battles, it seems edited with emphasis on emotion rather than action, and it ends in a very atypical way. Here the action seems to be balanced well in benefit of the story and style of the film. This makes the action for its own sake all the more beautiful to watch.

Also see the father-son device used in another excellent samurai series, Lone Wolf and Cub (Kozure Okami), starring Shintaro Katsu’s brother, Tomisaburo Wakayama.

worth the wait

This is another entry in the series directed by Kenji Misumi, but perhaps it is not one of his best.

This is a good film. I like the variety of characters and emotions in the film. Although I don’t sing enka (traditional Japanese love songs) in the karaoke, I enjoyed seeing it here in this film. Zatoichi loves any kind of music. And yes, it does seem very 1960s, because the film was MADE in the 1960s.

Unlike other Misumi films which are tightly paced and have a clear direction, Zatoichi Challenged meanders a bit through the middle of the film. It is the ending of the film which should have your full attention.

Once again, Zatoichi must square off against a samurai. But unlike other entries in the series, Zatoichi actually respects this one. But in the end, Zatoichi must defy the samurai to protect his friends. The usual duel ensues, but the ending to the duel is unique and very satisfying.

This one is worth watching if you are a Zatoichi fan and worth the price for Zatoichi collectors.