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Zatoichi the Blind Swordsman, Vol. 12 - Zatoichi and the Chess Expert

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Product Details

  • Actors: Shintarô Katsu, Mikio Narita, Rokko Toura, Chizu Hayashi, Kaneko Iwasaki
  • Directors: Kenji Misumi
  • Format: Anamorphic, Color, DVD-Video, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: Japanese
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: UNRATED
  • Studio: Home Vision
  • Release Date: June 21 2004
  • Run Time: 87 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • ASIN: B0001NBNH0
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #84,098 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)
  •  Would you like to update product info, give feedback on images, or tell us about a lower price?

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa445f12c) out of 5 stars 13 reviews
34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa3d311d4) out of 5 stars Errors in judgements and travelling companions April 1 2005
By Zack Davisson - Published on
Format: DVD
A chess master, one who is so jealous of his own talent that he kills any player who beats him. A woman, disguised as a man, traveling with her brother and fleeing some unknown hunter. A beautiful, gentle lady and her wounded child, dying but without money to buy medicine. A blind masseur, with an uncanny swiftness and ability with a sword. These are the cast of characters that set the stage for the 12th Zatoichi film, "Zatoichi and the Chess Expert" ("Zatoichi Jigoku tabi:" literal translation "Zatoichi's Trip to Hell.")

This is one of the best Zatoichi films that I have seen. The characters make for an interesting mix, each likable and formidable in their own way, but each harboring secrets that make them vipers hidden in the brush. The Chess Expert becomes Zatoichi's ally and traveling companion, each maximizing on the talents of the other to earn money. And Zatoichi needs money, to buy medicine for the poor child who was wounded in a sword fight that the masseur was involved in. The child's mother, beautiful and sorrowful, falls slowly in love with Zatoichi, even though she must betray him. The sister and brother are wild cards, somehow shattering the peace of the trip, as murder follows in their wake.

It all comes to an explosive finish, with companions battling companions, and secrets stripped bare. The melancholy love between Zatoichi and the beautiful woman is heart rending, though doomed. An excellent chambara flick all around, and a great Zatoichi film.
28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa3cf924c) out of 5 stars Zato Ichi Is Possessed By The Demon Of Compassion. Nov. 29 2005
By rsoonsa - Published on
Format: VHS Tape
The state of blindness does not hinder the swordsman masseur, Zato Ichi, in this well-crafted tale of pre-modern Japan, as he is determined to do what is correct by assisting a young girl's recovery from a severe wound suffered in tangential fashion during a sword-fight involving gangsters in the bandit-ridden country. Of the approximately 25 Zato Ichi films, this must rank as one of the better ones, as Shintaro Katsu who portrays the sightless samurai during the entire series, permits us to see more of the inner man behind the warrior facade, aided by an interesting story written by Kan Shimozawa, who contributes the most complex scenarios of this group of works. In early civilized Japan, all masseurs were blind, as then they could not look upon the bodies of their clients, and Zato Ichi ("Ichi the Masseur") is following this tradition, but he is as well an inordinately successful warrior with his cane sword, mastering with cold aplomb each challenge by aggressors, no matter how many they might be. Ichi is a prototypical loner who makes his way in this work, as in all others, by massaging, while handsomely adding to his income through his cheating skills at gambling, since he is also an inveterate confidence man, yet one who makes mistakes and these errors in judgement serve in strengthening his accessibility to the viewer. There is a pleasingly intricate plot, which places Ichi as a travelling companion of an itinerant samurai named Jumonji, played well by Mikio Narita in his first cinematic role, who is the chess expert of the English language title, and the two interact with several other groups of characters in a neatly-woven narrative. The complicated scenario is capably handled by veteran director of samurai motion pictures, Kenji Misumi, who later added other outstanding Zato Ichi films to this first one in his list, as he balances the interwoven dramatics neatly and nicely. Reasons for the societal and artistic success of this series are manifest in this film, wherein Ichi represents values which most peoples are struggling to identify and capture, with the blind swordsman becoming an iconic figure as he stumbles and totters, rather than riding, into the sunset, after completing his clash with evil.
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa41e6a80) out of 5 stars Excellent Aug. 4 2005
By Ryan - Published on
Format: VHS Tape
I am a huge fan of Zatoichi and I've collected alot of his films. This is among the best. I definitely would recommend this and other Zatoichi movies if your a fan of samurai cinema.
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa41e64b0) out of 5 stars One of the better ones in the Zatoichi series Sept. 24 2002
By W - Published on
Format: VHS Tape
Zatoichi films were produced by different directors and the results varied from one to another. Misumi Kenji, who also directed the very first one, seemed to always spend more film footage on character development, resulting in more matured story lines with better-defined personalities. This "Zatoichi Jigokutabi" ( Zatoichi, trip through hell ) was one of the best in the series. Narita Mikio, playing the character Jumonji, was one of the most interesting villains to show up in the episodes, and, Hayashi Chizuru, as the sister seeking vengence, was the most attractive actress to appear in the 1960's Zaitoichi episodes.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa3ea40d8) out of 5 stars Not the best, but more than good enough Sept. 4 2004
By M. Sutton - Published on
Format: DVD
Zatoichi is one of the most solid film series around. I've yet to see all of the entries, but of the dozen or so I have seen (including Katsu's 1989 rehash of the character and Takeshi Kitano's 2003 reinterpretation of it), there isn't a rotten egg in the bunch.

Zatoichi and the Chess Expert soars on it's character development and interesting relationships between characters. However, the action here is not the best in the series. Some of the technical aspects are a little off (the way some of the quicker, shorter fight scenes are edited is often jarring and unconvincing; most of the big, important fights though are quite good), and I would have liked to spend more time with some of the characters, a common complaint that I have with many of the series' entries.

Still, this is a film not to be missed. You can't go wrong with a Zatoichi film, and Zatoichi and the Chess Expert is certainly in at least the top third of the series, if only for it's great and complex characters and relationships.

Home Vision's DVD is beautiful! One of the best transfers of the bunch. Some of the closeups were sharper than transfers of movies made in the past five years. A really great disc of a classic, if slightly faulted, film.