The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi (2003) [Blu-ray]

Genre(s): Martial Arts
Miramax || R - 116 minutes - $39.99 || September 15, 2009
Reviewer: Tyler Thomas || Posted On: 2009-09-24

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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.

.:: A U D I O ::.

B L U - R A Y

Blu-ray Exclusives

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Director: Takeshi Kitano
Writer(s): Kan Shimosawa (novels); Takeshi Kitano (screenplay)
Cast: Takeshi Kitano, Tadanobu Asano, Michiyo Ookusu, Gadarukanaru Taka

Theatrical Release Date: June 4, 2004

Supplemental Material:
  • 2 Featurettes

Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (1.85)
  • English (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1), Japanese (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0)
  • Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

Let me be quite frank about this movie: I seriously had no idea what the heck was going on the entire time. Aside from the fact that I couldnít help laughing at the horrible audio track (described in the audio portion) but there are so many insane things that happen in this movie that I couldnít take it seriously, at all. The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi is a strange, weird and anything else that means odd flick, but itís a good hearted film with fun and excitement. Just donít worry about whatís going on or else youíll get lost just like me.

Zatoichi (Takeshi Kitano) goes on a killing spree in this film for some reason that I couldnít figure out. Thatís literally the entire movie, as he goes from place to place, slicing peopleís heads off, stabbing them with his sword, and oh I forgot to mention heís also blind. By being blind he has heightened senses, and can somehow throw a sword with perfect accuracy so it lands between your big toe and the next one to the right or left of it, however he sees fit. His family is also involved with killing people, as they murder tons of criminals (I assume, anyway) throughout the flick. Why does he do it? Only you will have to find out the true reason behind his murderous rampage, although I have to assume itís for a good reason.

Yeah, Iím not going to lie here, but this movie was just insanely violent. Granted this was back in 2003 when it was released, and the blood is about as real as Bigfoot, but itís still pretty over the top especially for this genre. Watching peopleís throats get slit made me laugh hysterically, as the people who it happens to have the oddest reaction on their face. Iím not going to bother dissing the audio track here, as it happens far below. But I will say that it is just as entertaining as the violence tries to be.

Iím not sure why exactly I couldnít get into this film as Iím sure others probably will, but it just didnít strike me as that entertaining. Sure itís nice and bloody, and donít get me wrong I love those flicks, but this one just didnít strike a chord with me. I couldnít understand what was going on, and it seriously seemed like someone was dying every minute of the film. Thereís some weird storylines involved here, if there are any, and the ending had me laughing so hard I had to give this one a little above average rating.


Behind the Scenes (40 minutes): I thought this was a mistake, but this really is forty minutes long. Contained in this long feature is: press conferences, a look at the scenery, and many other items. This is incredibly cool, excellent, and any other word that means neat to watch, so I strongly suggest you watch this to get more of a background on the film itself. Sadly though, most of it is subtitled, with a narration done and also some bad dubs.

Interviews with Crew (22 minutes): Yet again, I was surprised to learn that within just two extras there is more than an hourís worth of entertainment to be had here. The crew talks about the film, some of the funny things that happened, and how some of the scenes were made. Similar to the above extra, this one is worth watching if you enjoyed the flick as much as I did or just want to know more about the shooting or the crew.


The film itself isnít going to be winning any awards for this transfer, as itís nearly as dull as the last catalog I watched. Colors fall incredibly flat, and the attention to detail really isnít there at all. The scenery itself looks gorgeous, but everything else related to color and detail is in short supply, as this movie has an 80ís old school style to it rather than a martial art flick. There were a few scenes that I noticed a little bit of noise and distortion, but overall it wasnít too bad or distracting when I watched the film. Also of note, there wasnít any real grain overpowering scenes, although there is some every now and then. This isnít a bad transfer, but not one that is up to standards in 2009.

On the audio scale, the same problem occurs as with the last catalog I reviewed, and thatís the fact that the audio just doesnít match up with the dubbing that occurs. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track sounds wonderful, as surround use is used well and I didnít struggle to hear the dialogue throughout the film. The problem is that I could hear the dialogue, but the dubbing is so bad that the lips werenít moving when the speaking was going on. As great of an audio track as this might be, I canít give it a good score if the lips donít match whatís going on. Perhaps more work should have been done on the dubbing to get it right, rather than on the loudness or quality of the track itself.


The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi isnít one of the best martial arts films Iíve seen in the past decade or so, but itís not terrible by any means. The story is overall confusing as heck and I was lost after the first half an hour or so. The technical package is just average, as it sports both mediocre audio and video packages. The special features, although there are only two, are well-worth watching if you get the chance. This is one swordsman to take a rental on, as the high-list price is too much to ask for a purchase on.