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Japanese theatrical release poster
Directed by Takeshi Kitano
Produced by Masayuki Mori
Tsunehisa Saitō
Written by Screenplay:
Takeshi Kitano
Kan Shimozawa
Starring Beat Takeshi
Tadanobu Asano
Michiyo Okusu
Yui Natsukawa
Guadalcanal Taka
Daigiro Tachibana
Yuko Daike
Ittoku Kishibe
Saburo Ishikura
Akira Emoto
Music by Keiichi Suzuki
Cinematography Katsumi Yanagishima
Editing by Takeshi Kitano
Yoshinori Ōta
Studio Bandai Visual
Tokyo FM
TV Asahi
Saitō Entertainment
Distributed by Japan:
Office Kitano
United States:
Miramax Films
Release date(s) Venice Film Festival:
September 2, 2003
September 6, 2003
Running time 116 minutes
Country Japan
Language Japanese

Zatōichi (座頭市 ?) is a 2003 Japanese samurai drama and action film, directed, written, co-edited, and starring Takeshi Kitano ("Beat" Takeshi) as his 11th film.[1] Kitano plays the role of the blind swordsman himself.
The film is a high-budget revival of the classic Zatōichi series of samurai film and television dramas. It premiered on September 3, 2003 at the Venice Film Festival, where it won the prestigious Silver Lion award, and went on to numerous other awards both at home and abroad. It also stars Tadanobu Asano, Michiyo Okusu, Yui Natsukawa, Guadalcanal Taka, Daigiro Tachibana, Yuko Daike, Ittoku Kishibe, Saburo Ishikura, and Akira Emoto.



The film's plot follows a traditional theme, with Zatōichi coming to the defense of townspeople caught up in a local Yakuza gang war and being forced to pay excessive amounts of protection money. Meanwhile, Zatōichi befriends a local farmer and her gambler nephew and eventually offers his assistance to two geisha siblings (one of whom is actually a man) who are seeking revenge for the murder of their parents. The siblings are the only survivors of a massacre that was carried out on their family estate in order to obtain large sums of money ten years ago. They soon discover the people responsible for the murders are the same Yakuza wreaking havoc on the small town.

After slicing his way through an army of henchmen, Zatōichi defeats the Yakuzas' bodyguard, a powerful ronin, in a duel. Zatōichi later wanders into town and confronts the Yakuza bosses, killing the second-in-command and blinding the elderly Yakuza boss (who had been masquerading as a bumbling old waiter up until this point) after opening his eyes for the first time and giving the boss the impression that he has been able to see the entire time. The film ends with an unexpected dance number led by noted Japanese tap dance troupe The Stripes, and Zatōichi walking down a trail and unexpectedly tripping over a rock, saying "Even with eyes wide open, my world is one of darkness."



The film features computer-generated blood throughout. Yet, unlike most other instances of this in recent films, Kitano often utilizes it in a very stylized manner, in order to bring more visual beauty to the scenes of violence.

This incarnation of Zatōichi, going along with Kitano's desire to modernize his figure, has peroxide-blonde hair (which Kitano dyed around New Year), and the sheath of his cane-sword is blood-red: a warning (actually, Kitano wanted it to make up a three-color palette for his Zatoichi, as he appears dressed in blue throughout the film).



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