A samurai with a high skill in chess makes friends with Zatoichi, who finds that things become peculiar in his presence.A samurai with a high skill in chess makes friends with Zatoichi, who finds that things become peculiar in his presence.A samurai with a high skill in chess makes friends with Zatoichi, who finds that things become peculiar in his presence.
What I really liked about this film is the complex story with its numerous clever twists. The characters also have great depth. Even Zatoichi seems more emotional than usual as he opens up about the love of his life and his low self-esteem while being caring, helpful and respectful to those who need his help. The perfectly portrayed chess expert is hard to figure out because of his harsh convictions versus his impressive intelligence. The young woman Zatoichi travels with falls in love with the blind samurai and is at times desperate and at other times joyful about their complicated relationship. Her child is quirky but polite and its heart-warming to see how the girl and Zatoichi grow fond of one another. The sick man, his mysterious sister and his helpful retainer are also quite intriguing characters. This movie is more than just a classic chambara film and also a drama for all the complex relationships going on and a thriller because of the cruel murder of the retainer. The movie's atmosphere gets more and more mysterious throughout the nicely paced film. The landscapes are memorable, gorgeous and authentic, especially the port and ship in the beginning of the film and the modest inn with the hot springs that plays a central role in this film. The fight scenes are more vivid than in the preceding film. Most sword fights occur at the beginning and in the final five minutes but they are nicely choreographed. My favorite fight scene was when Zatoichi got ambushed in the middle of the night in the muddy meadows while carrying the expensive medicine for the sick child.
There really isn't much to criticize regarding one of the franchise's very best films. Obviously, there are some recurring elements in the movie such as numerous gambling scenes, traditional sword fights and Zatoichi traveling through rural landscapes but these predictable elements give each film about the blind masseur their very own identity.
If you like sword fighting movies or care for Japanese culture, history and nature, you will particularly like Zatoichi and the Chess Expert. You an learns more about Japan in one hour and a half here than you could by watching anime for a whole year. Since this is one of the most profound entries in the franchise, this movie would be recommendable to get to know a true piece of Japanese art.
- Mar 10, 2018