Zatoichi’s Vengeance (1966)

59% – Critics
59% – Audience

Zatoichi’s Vengeance Storyline

Zatoichi comes upon a dying man who asks him to give a bag of money to “Taichi”. Zatoichi has no idea who this is but when he comes upon a small town harassed by gangsters, he finds that “Taichi” was the man’s young son. Along his travels he also met a blind monk who makes Zatoichi question his murderous lifestyle. In trying to help the town, Zatoichi kills some gangsters and becomes a hero to the boy. He must make a choice of whether to use non-violence and set a good example, or violence and set the boy on the wrong path in life.—Fred Cabral

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Zatoichi’s Vengeance Movie Reviews

a better than average Zatoichi flick

This Zatiochi movie stands out from most of the others because of his relationship with the adorable, but bratty little boy. This is the same little boy who gives Ichi a hand full of pebbles and tells him it’s candy! Despite his brattiness, a strong bond of friendship develops between them and it is with much hesitation that Ichi leaves the boy at the end of the movie. The boy chases him through the crowd, with Ichi quickly tries to lose him. This was NOT done because the kid was annoying but because a kind monk helped him realize that keeping the boy with him was not good, as the violent lifestyle Ichi leads is NOT a good influence. Once again, Ichi chooses to abandon someone who loves him at the end of the movie–for their own good, but with a lot of heartbreak for both.

This isn’t a tale of vengeance

The blandly mistitled Zatoichi’s Vengeance is a typical movie of the franchise about the skilled gambler, blind masseur and pitiless swordsman. Zatoichi witnesses how a man got attacked on the road side and speaks to the dying man who tells him his name and asks him to bring a small bag of money to someone called Taichi. Upon arriving in a nearby town, Zatoichi stumbles upon a young boy with that name and realizes he is the dead man’s son. He hands the money over to the child and his grandmother but doesn’t want to tell them the boy’s father is dead. Zatoichi wants to leave town quickly but he is invited by the family of the dead man to stay and attend the roaring drums festival. While in town, Zatoichi witnesses how merchants get brutally extorted by a boss who has started controlling the calm town six months ago. Zatoichi gets caught in the conflict and decides to root for the helpless merchants while the boss hires the same man who killed Taichi’s father to challenge Zatoichi to a deadly duel.

The story described above might sound familiar if you have watched the Zatoichi films released before this one. This is also the film’s most obvious flaw because the story is quite predictable and doesn’t add anything new to the franchise. Another element I disliked is the fact that some background stories of interesting characters aren’t fully explored. We never get to know why Taichi’s father really had to die and the reason why the caring prostitute in the town’s brand-new brothel ended up like this isn’t fully explained either. One element a lot of people praise but that I didn’t appreciate was the presence of a blind priest Zatoichi comes across. The old man is quite arrogant and selfish. He asks Zatoichi to buy him food, talks to him while lying down to sleep and doesn’t stop lecturing him but can’t give any useful advice either. One moment, he tells Zatoichi to not draw his sword in front of Taichi who idolizes the blind samurai and then he approves Zatoichi’s decision to defend the exploited merchants. I happened to find the character of the blind priest very annoying, dishonest and pretentious.

Still, there are enough positive elements about the movie to make it at least an average entry in the epic franchise. First of all, the set of characters is overall quite interesting. Zatoichi is brought to think about his destructive lifestyle, Taichi is torn between admiring and despising the blind samurai, the prostitute is torn between helping her colleagues and helping herself and even the samurai that challenges Zatoichi has to fight his inner demons because he needs to take enormous risks to make money in order to free the person he still loves. The film’s atmosphere is also quite intense. It’s interesting to see a calm town with honest citizens getting terrorized and infiltrated by criminals, gamblers and prostitutes. Thirdly, the fight sequences are quite great, especially the fight scenes on the bridge where Zatoichi’s opponents try to distract the blind samurai with their roaring drums.

In the end, you will like Zatoichi’s Vengeance if you like the franchise. It’s an entertaining film even though it doesn’t bring anything new to the franchise. If you aren’t familiar with the franchise yet, you should rather start watching it in chronological order.

Zatoichi soul searching

This entry in the series begins with a hilarious scene wherein a Zatoichi suffering from a cold is surrounded by a gang of thugs. The usual occurs and the coup de grâce is delivered with a sneeze!

But the most interesting character in the film is the traveling, blind, pipa-playing priest. The priest is uncommonly wise and quickly takes the measure of Zatoichi. Zatoichi is pronounced to be a ‘chuto hampa’, belonging neither to common folk who look down upon him as a cripple, nor to the blind community because of his extraordinary abilities. This explains Zatoichi’s loneliness, which is a common theme throughout the series. The priest extols Zatoichi to put away the sword. And Zatoichi does at one point, enjoying a meal in the forest with the blind priest, carrying a normal cane. Zatoichi’s samurai rival draws near, and Zatoichi confesses that he is afraid.

True, in the end there is no catharsis. The film concludes with the normal string of confrontations with gang members and a showdown with the samurai. Still, there is a level of feeling and introspection in this film that continues on into the next film in the series. This compelling blend of humor, human struggle, and violence is sure to please a wide audience.