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Home Vision Entertainment presents
Zatoichi 11: Zatoichi and the Doomed Man (Zatoichi Sakate-Giri) (1965)

Hyakutaro: We could get in trouble and that would not be funny.
Zatoichi: (laughs)
Hyakutaro: You think its funny that I don't think it's funny?

- Kanbi Fujiyama, Shintaro Katsu

Review By: Joy Howe and Mark Zimmer   
Published: March 11, 2004

Stars: Shintaro Katsu, Kanbi Fujiyama, Kenjiro Ishiyama
Other Stars: Masako Myojo, Eiko Taki, Ryuzo Shimada
Director: Kazuo Mori

Manufacturer: Ascent Media
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (violence, abusive language)
Run Time: 01h:17m:07s
Release Date: August 19, 2003
UPC: 037429178720
Genre: foreign

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B- B-BC- D+

DVD Review

Even Zatoichi is permitted his Monday mornings, his week full of sleet and rain. In contrast to the previous installment, Zatoichi's Revenge, this time Zatoichi is mostly grave and somber. Knowing that our hero is not always getting into near-slapstick situations and easily getting out of them helps to show him as a more rounded character.

The story opens with Zatoichi in jail for some trumped-up gambling infraction. A fellow prisoner, Shimazo Katase, relates the tale of his own condemnation to die on false charges of housebreaking, arson, and murder. Shimazo pleads with Zatoichi to go back to Shimazo's home area, Oarai, and get several good men, Boss Jubei (Kenjiro Ishiyama) or Senpachi, to vouch for his good character and get him released. After taking his wince-inducing punishment with a grin, Zatoichi heads out of town. Although he at first attempts to deny his charge, Zatoichi finds himself drawn to Oarai nonetheless, and finds that helping Shimazo may not be as straightforward as it seemed at first.

There are of course the usual astonishing feats for the blind swordsman. To make a little money he plays a carnival archery game, and of course wins, astonishing the populace. In particular, the finale with the hordes of men attacking him is an elegantly choreographed nonstop wave of (relatively bloodless) slaughter, even though the bad guys fight very dirty.

The surrounding characters this time around are rather thinly drawn. Zatoichi is followed for a time by the young ne'er-do-well, Hyukataro, who first attempts to cheat him at the archery game, and then swipes Zatoichi's identity. Although it's an engaging character and it holds out plenty of possibilities, he drops out of sight for much of the picture and does little to propel the story forward. The two female leads, Masako Myojo and Eiko Taki, are veritable ciphers distinguishable only by the color of their kimonos.

Zatoichi himself doesn't grow much here either, though he does express a newfound affinity for the ocean, standing at the shore several times and taking it in with his remaining senses. Much of the time he bears a stern visage, and frankly it's rather heartbreaking. Its not as easy as one would think, always being the mop-up or go-to guy and Zatoichi is plainly dismayed at the moral state of a goodly percentage of his fellow man. The gunslinger syndrome is more in evidence than ever here and Zatoichi has an air of tiredness about him. Or perhaps it was Katsu's tiredness with the character after 11 films in a couple years?

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: B-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The anamorphic widescreen image has very good color and an acceptable level of detail. On close and medium shots texture is nicely rendered. The picture has a slightly digital feel to it, however, with some mild sparkling quality visible in the backgrounds. A bit more care could have been taken with the compression here.

Image Transfer Grade: B


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: The original Japanese audio is presented in 2.0 mono. As usual, the music is horribly distorted and practically unlistenable. Dialogue is generally clear and crisp, however, and hiss and noise are fairly subdued considering the film's age.

Audio Transfer Grade: C-


Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
2 Other Trailer(s) featuring Zatoichi 10: Zatoichi's Revenge, Zatoichi 12: Zatoichi and the Chess Expert
Production Notes
Packaging: generic plastic keepcase
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: The sole extras are a brief set of liner notes by Michael Jeck and a set of nonanamorphic (but widescreen and subtitled) trailers. Chaptering is just adequate.

Extras Grade: D+


Final Comments

Zatoichi is starting to be a bit worse for wear in this eleventh installment, and the characters he interacts with are pretty much cardboard to be knocked over. Not the series' finest hour, but there's a good video transfer at any rate.


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