Zatoichi’s Flashing Sword

January 28, 2012 6 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

As he passed through a town to repay a debt, Zatoichi (Shintaro Katsu) is shot in the back by a disreputable gang leader. This means he is in dire need of assistance, which is given to him by a young woman. The woman gives him food and shelter, then nurses him back to health, for which Zatoichi is very grateful. He came to the town to repay a debt, but now he finds himself owing this woman and her family as well. In order to repay their kindness, Zatoichi offers his sword and of course, his offer is accepted. The woman’s father is a good natured man who runs a river crossing service, but he is under attack from a rival at this time. His rival is the same man who tried to gun down Zatoichi, he is a man known as Yasugoro. As Yasugoro’s men move in on his hosts, Zatoichi battles back and helps the cause. The blind swordsman even engages some warriors in an underwater clash, which Zatoichi surfacing as the victor, of course. But when Yasugoro sees a chance to strike out against his rival he does, which is usually times when Zatoichi isn’t around or is dealing with other issues. As the fireworks blast overhead, can Zatoichi somehow ensure that Yasugoro’s evil plan is thwarted?

This is the seventh installment in Home Vision’s series of Zatoichi releases, but this isn’t one of the franchise’s better offerings. Shintaro Katsu is back of course, so the main performance is solid, but things just don’t seem in order here. Zatoichi’s Flashing Sword is kind of like Zatoichi on autopilot, as Katsu is good and some of the usual elements are present, but it lacks the emotion and depth of previous installments in the series. Yes, you’ll see the blind swordsman defend his honor and battle against evil foes, but the storyline simply isn’t too memorable. As we all know, sequels can be a curse and tarnish the originals, but up to this point, the Zatoichi sequels had been superb in all respects. So maybe this project was rushed or was just a quickie to raise some funds, but Zatoichi’s Flashing Sword fails to continue the excellence of the series. Even the action scenes come off as reserved, not to mention there’s a minimal amount of action present in the first place. The story seems thin and padded in places also, even with a rather short eighty-two minute duration. So if the material was stretched thin to cover this short running time, you know it couldn’t have been a well planned project. A few scenes come off as memorable and fun, but for the most part, this is a weak installment in the Zatoichi series. So I can only recommend this to fans of the series, but even then, don’t expect another classic.

Video: How does it look?

Zatoichi’s Flashing Sword is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. This turns out to be a very good visual effort, though some trouble does surface. A few scenes stand out as more worn then others, with a softer image and more nicks present. These flaws are by no means extreme, but when compared to the rest of the movie, they’re a step or two down. Even so, the rest of the scenes look terrific, with a clean presence and no hints of softness. I didn’t see much grain or debris either, so the elements are never held back in that respect. The colors are accurate and natural, while black levels look smooth and refined throughout. Even with a few troubled scenes, this is a great visual presentation from Home Vision.

Audio: How does it sound?

The audio here, which preserves the original Japanese language and might not too memorable, is still a solid track. I heard little in terms of distortion, while hiss is absent and that’s great news, without a doubt. The music here is quite good and is well presented, though of course, it isn’t too expansive, thanks to the material’s limitations. The sound effects follow the same order, as they sound good, but also restrained to some extent. But this isn’t exactly new showroom material, so I think we can cut it some slack. The dialogue is sharp and never gets muffled much, so even if you can’t understand what they’re saying, at least it sounds clean. This disc also includes English subtitles, should you need those.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This disc includes the film’s theatrical trailer.

Disc Scores