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Home Vision Entertainment presents
Zatoichi 9: Adventures of Zatoichi (Zatoichi sekisho yaburi) (1964)

"Put the young lady down.... I don't hear an answer. If I'm blind, and you've gone mute, this could be difficult."
- Zatoichi (Shintaro Katsu)

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: January 08, 2004

Stars: Shintaro Katsu, Eiko Taki, Miwa Takada
Other Stars: Mikijiro Hira, Kichijiro Ueda, Daimaru, Racquet Nakata
Director: Kimiyoshi Yasuda

Manufacturer: Ascent Media
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (violence)
Run Time: 01h:25m:48s
Release Date: August 19, 2003
UPC: 037429178522
Genre: foreign

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

The year 1964 was a high point in the Zatoichi craze; during that year alone four Zatoichi films, the last of them being the ninth installment in the long-running series. Shintaro Katsu returns as Zatoichi, the blind masseuse who is also a master swordsman.

Zatoichi is returning to a small village for the New Year's celebrations at Mount Miyogi when he is given a message for a young woman, Sen, by her refugee brother. The local boss, Jinbei, has been working in concert with the government intendant to oppress the local populace, and uses the New Year's holiday as an excuse to increase the fees for tradesmen to do business. In the process of aiding Sen and her brother, Zatoichi not only helps Lady Saki, who is looking for her father who has gone missing after petitioning for tax relief, but he also finds, in the person of an aged drunk, someone who may be his own father, absent since Zatoichi's childhood.

The script by Shozaburo Asai is a seemingly effortless blend of comedy and action, with Ichi-san using his blind schtick to maximum effect here. Particularly notable is a sequence where he blocks a gang of thugs on a staircase, pretending to be knocking them off with sheer clumsiness. A few Japanese sitcom stars, Daimaru and Racquet Nakata, also make an amusing appearance as comic street entertainers.

The action comes fast and furious, with few able to withstand Zatoichi's blade for more than a second. The most common reflex used in the picture (almost to the point of being tiresome) is a a dumbfounded look as the dead thugs fall to the ground after a single blinding flash of Zatoichi's blade offs three or four of them at once. Katsu's swordwork is amazing in its speed, and stepping through frame by frame reveals a good deal that the unaided eye could never catch. This is an entertaining installment in the series containing a fair amount of pathos in the intersecting lost father storylines.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The anamorphic widescreen picture generally has good eye appeal. Color is decent, though it seems a bit washed out in places. Splicing is a problem near the reel changes, and there are occasional bits of dirt and damage visible. Fast movement tends to have a digital appearance. Black levels are very good, and detail is acceptable, without added edge enhancement. Some aliasing is visible at times.

Image Transfer Grade: B


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: The original Japanese mono is mixed at appallingly high levels; listening at reference levels is a very painful experience. It's also a highly unpleasant one, since the music even at low levels suffers from massive distortion and clipping. At quieter moments, what sounds like the whir of the camera is audible. Noise and hiss are fairly limited, and dialogue doesn't sound bad when the music isn't playing and overpowering it.

Audio Transfer Grade: D


Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 19 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
2 Other Trailer(s) featuring Zatoichi 8: Fight Zatoichi, Fight, Zatoichi's Revenge
Packaging: generic plastic keepcase
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Poster replica
Extras Review: Very little is here for extras. A brief set of liner notes by a Zatoichi fan are supplemented by three nonanamorphic trailers for episodes 8, 9 and 10, and that's about it. There's also a poster reproduction folded up in the keepcase.

Extras Grade: D+


Final Comments

Another fun episode in the career of the blind swordsman, accomplished with verve, style and humor. The transfer's decent, but not much for extras.


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