Monday, March 3, 2014

Zatoichi The Last (2010)

Latest stab at reinventing  the Zatoichi story is a good looking film that kind of misses the point of it all.  Add it the long list of recent films that in rethinking a classic character completely missed what made it work. Of all the Zatoichi inspired films this is the one that I would be happy never to see again and forget ever existed,

The plot of the film has Ichi returning home heart broken after his wife was killed by the son of a yakuza. Hoping to put all the violence behind him and lead a normal life Ichi tries his hand as a fisherman. However the local yakuza is looking to squeeze the peasants so it's up to Ichi to once more take up the cane sword to protect them.

A good looking film, with some great music and some good fights, the film is missing the point when it comes to everything else. I could go on about the dullness of the plot (its a variation on several Zatoichi films and lifts bits from Shintaro Katsu's final film) and the pacing which pushes the film to an unwieldy and stupefying 130 minutes. Instead I'd just like to go on about how wrong they got the character of Ichi.

 Ichi is pretty much a broken man when the film begins and by the time his wife is killed a couple minutes into the film he completely unravels. Why was he so broken to begin with? We don't know. While Shingo Katori gets some of the twichiness of what we think a blind man should have right, the problem is it's radically different than a man we think should be a swordsman. How could he fight so when the whole world makes him wince. He almost seems incapable of getting around.

Feared swordsman? I think not.

Actually the real question is with all the damage he takes in this film, how the hell did he not end up dead sooner? Seriously? He's cut and shot and stabbed and beaten so many times that he shouldn't be a feared swordsman he should be dead.

All humor has been drained out of the character. Yea I know the film isn't about happy stuff, but before this there was always a humor and a humanity under lying everything. The humor is gone, the humanity has been twisted to provoke sadness. This Ichi is so different as to almost be an abomination to connect it to every film that went before.

Actually what this reminds me of is all of those embarrassing restarts that fill modern popular culture. You know things like the Roland Emmerich remake of Godzilla, Sylvester Stallone's Judge Dredd , orJonah Hex. This is one of those films that needs to be forgotten and dumped into the dust bin of time.

I hate this film, and while I would be happy that the end of the film assures that there can't be a direct sequel, I hate that the film may have put the kibosh on the character reappearing any time soon.

The worst Zatoichi film ever.

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