You are in: surefish
Date: 22 March, 2004
Takeshi, right, plays Zatoichi
'It squirts and spurts, and while not pleasant to witness,
its effervescence is often cartoonish.'
Even though it's bloody, Catherine von Ruhland likes Japanese film
A flood of blood splatters across the movie
screen this month. First, Zatoichi, followed by the release
of Mel Gibson's controversial The
Passion of the Christ.
Ironically, Takeshi Kitano's Samurai actioner is the more transcendent
of the two films.
Director Kitano's acting alter ego Beat Takeshi is Zatoichi, a blind
gambler and masseur and master swordsman, wandering the foothills
of 19th century Japan.
So when he comes across a small town at the mercy of the Ginzo gang,
he turns avenging angel to free the locals.
The bloodletting in Zatoichi is reminiscent of Kill Bill.
It squirts and spurts, and while not pleasant to witness, its effervescence
is often cartoonish.
It is as if Kitano and Quentin Tarentino are playing with the new
technology and special effects available to them. And while there
is a definite glibness about their battles of life and death, there
are depths to their visions too.
It takes a long while to recognise the worth of this film beyond
it being a gripping Western-style drama. Certainly the swordwork
and choreography are splendid and artful, and the mystery of Clint
Eastwood's Man With No Name character hangs about Zatoichi.
But the slaughter would seem relentless were it not for the film's
truly cathartic, uplifting, transforming conclusion.
Those who have taken the film lightly will likely view the foot-tapping
finale as a jolly good romp. For it appears like a post-production
hoopla featuring the entire cast in a show-stopping stage-thumping
celebration that lift's one's spirits way beyond the cinema roof.
But in the context of all that has gone before it presents an amazing
grace! The townspeople are free: they live again. The old hotfoot
Most moving of all, the abused child who became the damaged adult
is given space to dance too. Like the final feast at the end of
Cold Mountain what we have here is a cinematic vision of
a glorious transcendence, of a world made wholly new.
Zatoichi (18), directed by Takeshi
Kitano, starring Beat Takeshi