Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Japanese Pop Culture Comes to Life in 'Zatoichi'

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Japanese Pop Culture Comes to Life in 'Zatoichi'

Article excerpt

Byline: Matt Soergel, The Times-Union

The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi has goofy comedy, mysticism, gender-bending geishas and enough bright red, spurting blood to remake Kill Bill: Vol. 1 three times over.

Oh, it also ends with a big musical number in which the entire cast -- heroes, villains and many of the henchmen who earlier spurted that bright red blood -- puts on smiles and wooden sandals and . . . starts tap dancing.

Highly synchronized tap dancing, we might add.

It's an oddball, cartoonish delight aimed right at fans of the samurai legend and Japanese pop culture; it could make some new fans along the way.

Zatoichi, opening today at the Pablo 9 in Jacksonville Beach, brings to life the story, told in numerous films in the '60s and '70s, of a lethal blind swordsman who's also a heck of a masseur.

Filmmaker Takeshi Kitano, a.k.a. actor Beat Takeshi, stars as Zatoichi. With dyed blond hair and a shuffling gait, tapping his cane, he's a wanderer who steps into a gang war that's left a 19th century town seriously depopulated. …

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