Director: Kazuo Mori
Writers: Minoru Inuzuka, Kan Shimozawa
Composer: Ichiro Saito
Starring: Shintaro Katsu, Yaeko Mizutani, Masayo banri, Tomisaburo wakayama, Yutaka Nakamura, Sonosuke Sawamura, Shosaku Sugiyama
More info: IMDb
Plot: Blind swordsman/masseur Zatoichi is pursued by the retainers of a lord who fear that he will reveal a secret weakness of their master. Returning to the village where a year before he had killed Hirate, a much-admired opponent, Zatoichi encounters another swordsman and former rival in love: his own brother. He must face in combat not only the pursuing retainers but his own flesh-and-blood.
My rating: 8/10
Will I watch it again? Yes.
I've only seen a small few of the 25 films in the 60s/70s Shintaro Katsu series and they're all very good so far. Like many in this series, there isn't an awful lot of sword play but there are generally a couple of little scenes and one big one at the end. The opening has some ruffians going up against a one-armed swordsman and he does a fine job of handling himself. Nice.
Zatoichi gets into a scrap with some numbskulls bent on killing him for knowing that their master is gay. That doesn't go well for them. Had they just watched the first movie they would have know what they were up against. It's pretty quiet until the final act where, in the last fifteen minutes, we get the big ass showdown we knew was coming.
Besides the great action, much of this final act is without music. it's a nice touch. The fight lasts a few short minutes and then it's up to Zatoichi to help the wounded one-armed swordsman.
It looks like it's curtains for both of them but we know something they don't, there's going to be more than twenty more films after this and it's all grade-A ass kickin' stuff. And the ending to this one is pretty ballsy. I won't spoil it but it is unusual.