The New Tale of Zatoichi/Review
From The Grindhouse Cinema Database
After that fiery gut-punch of an ending in the second movie, where he went up against his brother, this time he faces an equally exciting enemy, the man who taught him the skills as a revered swordsman. As I haven't watched these movies before, I admit I did feel a little disappointed that this showdown happened this early in the series. But when their duel does happen, it is quite a fight to behold.
After two movies shot in black and white, Zatoichi finally goes color. Don't get me wrong, it worked pretty decently as a black and white picture, and somehow, the third movie feels like a colorized version of a black and white film. But to watch it like that feels like it was always like that. Despite the color change, the director manages to blend the movie's tone with ease over here.
Ichi, while going to his old village, encounters a group of travelers getting robbed by a bunch of thieves. Initially, it looks like Ichi has no inclination to respond but later goes to their clan and threatens them to pay back the travelers. A considerable part of Ichi's personality comes out here as he reveals that he did not do anything at the inn as he did not want to harm anyone by fighting there.
Another pretty sweet thing was it looks like Ichi would finally find love in the form of Yayoi, who is the sister of Banno, his ex-master who trained him. It is nice to see him at least trying to attempt having a semblance of a relationship with someone for a change, including trying to settle down and give up a life of living by the sword. As part of his promise to Yayoi to move away from his old life, he also offers his hand as penance to a man out for revenge whose brother he had killed previously.
The jarring thing about this whole episode is that we are not given any clue and inclination to why he chooses to settle down with her. It is surprising how quickly he has a change of heart, especially to the point of offering his hand to his would-be executioner despite knowing he is more than capable of slicing the guy off quickly.
The highlight of the movie is the character of Banno, Ichi's master. A man who has fallen on hard times causing him to be in cohorts with the yakuza now. Whatever honor he showed In training the blind Zatoichi is negated here in his hypocrisy when he insults him for his blindness and forbids him from marrying his sister.
The list of vile things doesn't end here as he keeps on pushing and doing things that make it very easy for us to hate him enough to continue rooting for Zatoichi. Things boil over in their climactic showdown, which is quite thrilling considering that Ichi meets his master here. The man who supposedly taught him everything, even though he might have picked some things his master does not know along the way.
It is a bittersweet ending to the movie when he tells Yayoi that he is not that kind of man and walks away in the battle's bloody aftermath. Both realize that he can't settle down for reasons not entirely his faults, as there are still too many people out there who want a piece of him.