Just a quick heads up that if you head on over to Hulu you can now find the first 6 films in the Zatoichi lineage online and for free thanks to film preservation heroes, the Criterion Collection. Not familiar with the blind masseur who wanders ancient Japan hiding a deadly skillset? Let's have a quick rundown of Japan's fascination with the character, then. To Wikipedia!

  • The cinematic legend first came to life in 1962 in the film Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman.
  • There are 26 films in the original Zatoichi line, the last one appearing in 1989. It was never revealed what caused his blindness or how he became such a proficient swordsman.
  • Takasehi "Beat" Kitano directed and starred in a 2003 resurrection of the character (this was my first introduction) titled simply Zatoichi.
  • Takashi Miike (he of Audition fame) once directed a Zatoichi stage play.
  • A television series based on the character ended a two year run in the '70s with 112 episodes under its belt.
  • The 2008 film Ichi is a spiritual successor that hints its title character, this time a female blind swordsman, is the daughter of Zatoichi.
  • The 1990 Rutger Hauer flick Blind Furry is a loose Americanization with one awesome poster to boot.
That's a lot of blind swordsman going on. And now you too can see how the cultural obsession began by hopping over to Hulu. Big thanks to 24FramesPerSecond for the heads up.
categories Features, Cinematical