Nippon Nights: ZATOICHI MEETS YOJIMBO
May 31 only
Nippon Nights says goodbye to May but hello to one of the most popular characters in Japanese movie history in ZATOICHI MEETS YOJIMBO! The legendary Shintaro Katsu, probably the most popular film and TV star in Japan in the late 1960s and 1970s, portrays the blind masseuse Zatoichi, who wanders from town to town in the Edo era (1830s and 40s) . The character, originally created by Kam Shimozowa, enjoys drinking and is a master gambler, leading him to hang out in yakuza dens and geisha houses, where he gets involved with the lives of the downtrodden characters that inhabit such places, often leading to conflicts with local politicos, crime bosses, and often both. When he does, “Ichi” reveals the other skill he is a master of – using a concealed cane sword that often leads to large scale carnage!
The first film in the series, TALE OF ZATOICHI, was released in 1961. Over the next 24 years there would be an astounding twenty five Zatoichi movies made, followed by a long running TV series, a return for Katsu as the lead in a 1989 film, and a big budget remake in 2003 starring Takeshi Kitano which won Takeshi his second Venice Film Festival Golden Lion Award for direction (HANA-BI being his first). In 1970, the original series had taken a two year hiatus while moving from Daei to the more lavish Toho studios, which meant a bigger production budget and a chance to team Katsu for the first time with another legendarily scruffy Japanese warrior, Toshiro Mifune’s Yojimbo! Mifune’s character in this film is not the same exact person as the character he played in the original Kurosawa classic, but does share the original Yojimbo’s characteristcs, which makes him at times an antagonist and at times a kindred spirit to Zatoichi. In the film, the two legends find themselves involved in a complicated plot in Zatoichi’s home village involving local crime bosses, a Shakespearean family drama, and high level corruption involving government gold and Edo spies, resulting in a bloody and beautifully filmed (by RASHOMON and YOJIMBO cinematographer Kazuo Miyagawa) large scale battle sequence set to an amazingly eerie score by legendary composer Akira Ifukube, the man behind the ominous tones of the original GODZILLA films. Through all of this, Katsu and Mifune play off of each other beautifully, sharing far more screen time than De Niro and Pacino did in the legendary US acting mashup HEAT, with several comedic scenes between the two giving the audience emotional access to this legendary pairing .
Zatoichi has not graced local screens since Beat Takeshi’s millennial remake, and Katsu’s original has not been seen locally since the early 1990s! The Roxie and Nippon Nights are thrilled to bring this great character back with the legendary Mifune along for the ride!
115m/Japanese w/English subtitles/HD Digital
FREE OR DISCOUNTED FOR MEMBERS