Zatoichi | Film | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Zatoichi is a blind itinerant masseur whose cane conceals a samurai sword he wields faster than the eye; driven by self-preservation, revenge and a sense of justice, the hunched, shuffling and white-haired elder nonetheless leaves a trail of bloodied bodies in rural 19th-century Japan. Add a couple lethal, grudge-bearing geishas and some gang warfare, though, and you still don't have the half of it: Filmmaker and star Takeshi Kitano's comic-book yarn is cinema happy to either meet your expectations (for stylized samurai action) or to chop them up, as with an anticlimactically climactic fight that's followed by three beautifully terse dialogueless scenes ... then some tap-dancing. With arresting images captured by his floating, intuitively cinematic camera, Kitano (who typically makes arty-yet-violent cop movies) feels free to delve into both corny slapstick and wonderfully idiosyncratic editing rhythms that make his film feel fresh even when the narrative seems terribly familiar. In Japanese, with subtitles. 2.5 cameras

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