Import Corner: The Blind Swordsman: Zaotichi (座頭市) (Imprint Films) Blu-ray Review + 1080p Screenshots + Packaging Shots

THE BLIND SWORDSMAN: ZAOTICHI slashes it's way onto Australian blu-ray with fine release from Imprint Films

Studio: Imprint Films
Release Date: September 6th, 2003 (theatrical) / March 27th, 2024 (blu-ray)
Run Time: 1 hour 56 minutes 10 seconds
Region Code: FREE
Disc Count: 1 (BD-50)
Picture: 1080p (1.85:1 aspect ratio)
Sound: Japanese DTS-HD 5.1, Japanese LPCM 2.0
Subtitles: English
Slipcover: Yes (slip box)
Digital Copy: No
Starring: Takeshi Kitano, Tadanobu Asano, Yui Natsukawa, Michiyo Yasuda, Taka Guadalcanal, Daigorô Tachibana
Written by Takeshi Kitano, Kan Shimozawa
Directed by Takeshi Kitano
Rating: AUS: MA15+ (medium level violence, adult themes)




What's It About?

Blind Zatoichi makes his living by gambling and giving massages. But behind his humble facade, Zatoichi is a master swordsman, gifted with lightning-fast draw and strokes of breathtaking precision. Zatoichi wanders into a town run by sinister gangs and a powerful samurai. He's destined for violent showdowns when he stumbles on two beautiful geishas avenging their parents' murder... Duels, wit and a touch of zen!


Presetented in the film's original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, THE BLIND SWORDMAN: ZATOICHI looks good but could have been better. Deep blacks and a nice level of film grain are the best things about this transfer. Detail can be good at times but image depth is not so good. There are times where the image is flat as a board but those times are not that often. Colors are a bit muted as well and skin tones can be flat as well. This is not a bad transfer. It's just old. 


Audio Commentary by film historian and author Sean Redmond (2024)

The Making Of "The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi" (39m 57s, SD, 1.33:1) A pretty damn thorough making, presented as a diary of sorts, starting with the film's announcement press conference and going all the way through to the film's release. I very much enjoyed this one.

Cast Interviews (can be played separately or with the "Play All" button)

  • Play All (38m 41s, SD, 1.33:1)
  • Tatsumi Nikamoto and Hiroaki Tokoro (7m 48s, SD, 1.33:1)
  • Kazuko Kurosawa (7m 10s, SD, 1.33:1)
  • Katsumi Yanagishima (5m 14s, SD, 1.33:1)
  • Hideboh (The Stripes) (5m 33s, SD, 1.33:1)
  • Keiichi Suzuki (5m 37s, SD, 1.33:1)
  • Senji Horiuchi (7m 16s, SD, 1.33:1)

Theatrical Trailer (1m 25s, SD, 1.85:1, 4x3)

THE BLIND SWORDSMAN: ZATOICHI comes to blu-ray with some nice packaging. The front of the slip box features the film's American poster art (which is taken from the Japanese poster). Imprint Films lets the artwork speak for itself with them putting their logo in the upper right hand corner, out of th eway of the artwork. The artwork on the 14mm clear blu-ray case is artwork I have never seen before. It's nice but not as nice as the main artwork. Inside the case, you will find inner artwork and the blu-ray disc.

The disc is REGION FREE


THE BLIND SWORDSMAN: ZATOICHI is a good film. It lives to the spirit of the series and feels like it belongs with the rest of the films. Kitano as an actor is always a nice thing to see. He commands the screen and you can never look away when he is present. The action is quick and brutal but Kitano relies way too much on CGI blood for my liking. The opening scene shows how terrible CGI blood used to be (it isn't all that great nowadays but it was truly awful back in the early 2000s). The violence in this scene would have been so much more impactful had it been practical. Because the violence is over so quickly, the CGI blood doesn't stay around too long. The CGI swords are even worse as Kitano lingers on one about halfway through the film a bit too long. The rest of the film is entertaining and very low-key. I had fun with the film and you will too.

THE BLIND SWORDSMAN: ZATOICHI makes it's Austrailian blu-ray debut with this nice package. Sure, the picture quality could have been better but its not bad either. It's an older transfer that has many problems but those problems have been around the transfer was made. While I did notice these problems, they never distracted me from enjoying the film. The special feartures are nice, though with a great commentary track, a fun and informative making of, and some nice interviews. If you are a fan of the film or Japanese cinema in general, then this release belongs in your collection.






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