Tuesday, July 14, 2009

What I Think Of: Ichi (2008)

This is a 2008 re-imaging/partial continuation of the classic Japanese series, Zatoichi which has spawned 26 films and 112 television episodes- crazy I know, and I've seen them all which is both crazy and sad - closer to sad I think. Anyway, so there's a lot of history, a lot of baggage to go with any new movie in the series, but what's nice is that while being a continuation of the series, only a hardcore fan would see it that way. Ichi works by being a singular film rather than just a new entry in the series, meaning you don't have to have seen the other films to enjoy this film. One can see Ichi as just another exploitation film, especially since the gender roles have been reversed with the Zato (japanese for blind massuer) character now a beautiful woman who makes a living as a muscician as she seeks the blind masseur who taught her how to fight (she uses a unique style of fighting with a sword hidden in her cane). Everything is here - fantastic action, blood, music, sadness, beautiful cinematography- and while Ichi is not as fun or carefree as the previous Zatoichi movies, it is nice to see the series get an update, especially after Beat Kitano spit in every fans face with his 2003 remake (I saw the remake at the Tribeca Film Festival back in 2004 and I had tears of anger in my eyes as the credits rolled). Anyway, hopefully Ichi will lead more people to revisit the classic Shintaro Katsu Zatoichi series which is/was playful, beautiful, and a wonderful treat to watch. This Ichi film may not be on par with the classics, but is a welcome addition to a chambara genre (swordplay) that has gone way too over the top in recent years. Check out Ichi when it finally gets a North American dvd release hopefully sometime soon. This movie is not to be confused with the hardcore violent Ichi The Killer.

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