Monday, December 26, 2005

Zatoichi at Large (1972)

It's evident that this series must be getting near the end of the line with this entry, which sees the intrepid masseur once again getting mixed up with yakuzas and corrupt government officials after an act of Good Samaritanism goes awry. This is the most by-the-numbers entry yet, with most every plot point echoing earlier films (Ichi travels with a baby as in Fight, Zatoichi, Fight; Ichi saves a girl from a forced sale into prostitution a la Zatoichi's Revenge; Ichi is suspected of killing someone he tried to help just like Zatoichi Meets the One-Armed Swordsman, which by the way was only ONE FILM PRIOR). There's a couple good moments that hint at a sneaking self-awareness within this graying series (best moment: when a fellow swordsman compliments Ichi's prowess, he humbly chuckles, "Nah, I just go apeshit"), but these bits are too few to save the film. Pretty much all that appears to be left is to watch the series stagger to a halt in a couple films' time; the completely perfunctory handling of the final duel suggests that, at this point, all involved parties were already mentally looking forward to other things.

Grade: C


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