The colossally popular Zatoichi films make up the longest-running action series in Japanese history and created one of the screen’s great heroes: an itinerant blind masseur who also happens to be a lightning-fast swordsman. As this iconic figure, the charismatic and earthy Shintaro Katsu became an instant superstar, lending a larger-than-life presence to the thrilling adventures of a man who lives staunchly by a code of honor and delivers justice in every town and village he enters. The films that feature him are variously pulse-pounding, hilarious, stirring, and completely off-the-wall.
Directed by Kimiyoshi Yasuda • 1973 • Japan
Everything comes full circle when Zatoichi returns to his hometown. Unfortunately, he finds that a childhood friend has become a feared crime lord, keeping the locals in debt and bilking them of their rice. Capping off Zatoichi’s feature f...
Directed by filmmaker and Japanese-culture scholar John Nathan, this documentary from 1978 takes a candid and unvarnished look at the professional and personal life of Shintaro Katsu, the star of the ZATOICHI series.