Monday, September 05, 2005

Zatoichi: The Festival of Fire (1970)

Another strong series entry from Kenji Misumi, this one centered around Ichi's burgeoning relationship with a young woman given orders to kill him. As with a good deal of these later Zatoichi films, the violence and swordfights are of a harder-edged nature, with less of Ichi the prankster and more of Ichi the solitary gangster. The film's highlight is a riotous melee in a bathhouse... at least until the incendiary climax, where the film's title begins to make sense. Also, making the top yakuza nemesis in this film blind was a clever touch, as it creates interesting parallels between the hero and the villain.

Grade: B+


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