ZATOICHI – THE BLIND SWORDSMAN BLU RAY CRITERION COLLECTION REVIEW

Zatoichi…The Blind Swordsman. Known in the general film world as much now for Takashi Miike and Takashi Kintano’s 2008 film as much as for the series of films that preceded it. Well the series that lead us to that film, starred Shintaro Katsu (in his best roles as an actor). The Criterion Collection have released this literally amazing, visually delightful set (released in the US in a dual format some years prior). Featuring all 25 films from the first series (excluding the 1989 version). Some are superb, others are fillers but all are packaged in a box that will stun anyone finding it or opening it on Christmas day…

So to review the films would be absurd. 25 films that I have watched (some more than once, others only once.) The best are THE TALE OF ZATOICHI, ZATOICHI CANE SWORD, ZATOICHI THE OUTLAW, ZATOICHI REVENGE, ZATOICHI MEETS YOJIMBO and ZATOICHI THE FUGITIVE. These are the stand up greats here. I recommend the novice start here and then come onto some of the others.

Right, the set. All films have been digitally restored. The older films hold up well to this. THE TALE OF ZATOICHI for instance, looks fresher than even the US release. The later films are a little yellow in tone but that is the film stock I suspect. The box is a thing of beauty. A direct version of the US release. Illustrated with art inspired by each film. This adds to each film. You can watch it and be set up for something that is inherent in the film. The extras for the set are housed on a separate disc. Rayns interview meanders a bit and I was less taken then I thought I would be. The Blind Swordsman documentary deserves to be seen. It charts the rise, fail and rediscovery of the series that might be compaired to a western series like RAWHIDE, but better. If you are wanting a gift for a film fan, then £150 to buy this is well spent!

Includes 25 Films:

  • THE TALE OF ZATOICHI
  • THE TALE OF ZATOICHI CONTINUES
  • NEW TALE OF ZATOICHI
  • ZATOICHI THE FUGITIVE
  • ZATOICHI ON THE ROAD
  • ZATOICHI AND THE CHEST OF GOLD
  • ZATOICHI’S FLASHING SWORD
  • FIGHT, ZATOICHI, FIGHT
  • ADVENTURES OF ZATOICHI
  • ZATOICHI’S REVENGE
  • ZATOICHI AND THE DOOMED MAN
  • ZATOICHI AND THE CHESS EXPERT
  • ZATOICHI’S VENGEANCE
  • ZATOICHI’S PILGRIMAGE
  • ZATOICHI’S CANE SWORD
  • ZATOICHI THE OUTLAW
  • ZATOICHI CHALLENGED
  • ZATOICHI AND THE FUGITIVES
  • SAMARITAN ZATOICHI
  • ZATOICHI MEETS YOJIMBO
  • ZATOICHI GOES TO THE FIRE FESTIVAL
  • ZATOICHI MEETS THE ONE-ARMED SWORDSMAN
  • ZATOICHI AT LARGE
  • ZATOICHI IN DESPERATION
  • ZATOICHI’S CONSPIRACY

BLU-RAY SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES

  • New digital restorations of all twenty-five films, with uncompressed monaural soundtracks
  • The Blind Swordsman, a 1978 documentary about Zatoichi portrayer and filmmaker Shintaro Katsu, along with a new interview with its director, John Nathan
  • New Interview with Asian-film critic Tony Rayns
  • Trailers
  • New English Subtitles

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