Ultraviolent remake of '60s classic about a samurai legend

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Overall rating:

Score 5

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Blind Ambition

The summer of 2004 promises to be all swords’n’sandals, but right now swords’n’sake is where it’s at. A multiple award-winner at last year’s Venice Film Festival, its UK release is well-timed, Kill Bill and The Last Samurai having whet our appetites for all things bushido. This beautiful, violent film not only equals the best of Takeshi’s output but, in terms of tone and composition, surpasses it. It’s his Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon?albeit with spurting arteries in place of mid-air ballet.

Although relatively unknown to western audiences, Zatoichi is one of Japan’s longest-running franchises, lasting from 1962 to 1989 through 26 films and a TV series, which made a pop-culture icon out of star Shintar