Original Title: 座頭市と用心棒
English Title: Zatoichi Meets Yojimbo
What it is: A meeting of two of the most iconic characters in the history of samurai movies: Zatoichi the blind masseur/master swordsman and Yojimbo, the stoic ronin from the Kurosawa classics Sanjuro and Yojimbo(technically it’s not the same Yojimbo, but it’s close enough)
What it’s about: After years of wandering (this is the 20th movie in the Zatoichi series) Zatoichi returns to his hometown to find the once idyllic village overrun by Yakuza. Yojimbo is there too, seemingly helping the Yakuza, but mostly giving Zatoichi a hard time. Then again, maybe they’re really on the same side and Yojimbo is just messing with the bad guys from the inside. There are also subplots about a hidden bar of gold that everyone is looking for and an evil spy sent to kill Yojimbo, but they’re sort of hard to follow.
Culture Clash: The most of note thing culturally was that no matter where people are from they will always go crazy for a brick of gold. Also, one of my favorite samurai movie tropes on display here, there’s nobody more evil in a samurai movie than the guy who brings a gun to a sword fight.
How much you need to know about the title characters going in: Given there’s 19 Zatoichi movies before this one you might think there’s a lot of back story but you learn everything you need in the first 10 minutes; Zatoichi is a blind masseur, that somehow manages to kick ass in every sword fight he’s in. As for Yojimbo, there really isn’t much to know, he’s a badass, doesn’t say much, likes getting drunk, also really good at sword-fighting.
Watch or Not: Unless you’re a samurai movie completist I don’t see much reason to watch this. At almost two hours, it’s too long and the plot is hard to follow. While it is fun seeing these two classic characters together and the performances by the two leads are good, the story doesn’t give them much to do or keep the audience’s interest enough that you actually care what happens to them.
Subs or Dubs: It seems to be only available with subtitles, and that’s probably for the best since the performances by the two leads is what makes the movie worth watching at all.
Dr. Pepper Guarantee: No way Jose.
Where to watch: Zatoichi Meets Yojimbo is available to rent on Amazon and Google
*I’ve never seen Freddy vs. Jason