The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi
Multitalented Takeshi Kitano (he is also an adored TV comic in Japan) directs and stars in the latest installment of this long-running film series. Zatoichi is a humble, sightless wanderer who makes his living as a masseuse and gambler and whose cane hides a sword that he wields with stunning precision. He happens upon a remote town terrorized by a gang war and becomes involved in the violence after encountering a pair of geishas intent on avenging the murder of their parents at the hands of the ruthless crime lord Ginzo. The characters are colorful; the action is splashed with blood and severed body parts; and the story is laced with huge, surprising laughs and two Stomp-like scenes that lead to a climactic showdown and subsequent tap-dance routine. The pace is slow at times, which I did not mind, but at 119 minutes, the film feels overly long.