Saturday, July 19, 2014

ZATOICHI MEETS THE ONE-ARMED SWORDSMAN

Martial Arts


By Rick - Back in March I did a Zatoichi Post. I concluded the piece saying I was looking forward to making my way through the blind swordsman movies. Zatoichi Meets the One-Armed Swordsman was one of these classics I could not wait to see.

This movie is a classic crossover between chambara and wuxia genres. Chambara movies are nontraditional samurai films. Wuxia movies are bloody martial arts anti-hero films. Put these two exploitation styles together and you have an action packed story of distrust, betrayal, and respect.

Yu Wang, who plays Wang Kong; The One Armed Swordsmen is in Japan. He is there to visit a friend at a Zen temple. While traveling across the country he befriends a family of Chinese street performers. They offer to guide him to his destination.  While on their pilgrimage the One- Armed Swordsman and the Chinese performers must make way for a procession of samurai and yakuza carrying the areas taxes to the shogun. During the march the Chinese family’s son loses control of a toy and runs into the street to capture the runway plaything. This action breaks Japanese societal protocol and the samurai in charge move to dispatch the young child. Wang Yu protects him which starts a traditional budo vs kung fu brawl.  He tells the boy to run and leads the enraged warriors in the other direction.

Zatoichi later comes across the Chinese boy and finding the child’s parents dead decides to be the boy’s protector until he can figure out what to do. While wandering Zatoichi hears of a massacre of peasants and the theft of the areas tribute by a Chinese rogue.  Soon, while taking refuge in a deserted shack Zatoichi and Wang Yu meet and a fragile trust is created.
The real story begins here. These two martial arts masters that cannot communicate must trust each other to protect an innocent child. While defending the boy they must contend with a group of gangsters, honorless samurai, and xenophobic Japanese.   

This is not the best Zatoichi movie but the fight scenes are some of the top battles in the franchise. Shintaro katsu stepped up his game in this feature. It must have been the influence of director Hsu Tseng-Hung that inspired these superb melees.

Zatoichi meets the One Armed Swordsman was produced by and stars Katsu Shintaroh as Zatoichi and Jimmy Wang Yu as Wang Gang the one armed Swordsman. 




By Tony - Zatoichi Meets the One Armed Swordsmen. As a bigger fan of the Chinese wuxia (swordplay) genre, I found this movie a bit bias. Being that it was a Zatoichi film says it all. At the start of the movie we find Yu Wang, who plays Wang Kong a.k.a. “The One Armed Swordsmen,” in Japan. He is on his way to visit a friend, a Zen priest.  The priest offered him a place to live where he could escape the fighting that took place in his home country.


Wang meets up with fellow countrymen who are street performers and they offer to show him how to get to the Zen temple. On the way they come across a group of Samurai. The son of the street performers chases his kite that has blown in front of the samurai. His mother ends up dead protecting him, as does his father for trying to save them both. Wang sees this and leaps to the aid of his countrymen. He hacks away at a few samurai before leading the rest on a chase that ends up in a 100 foot kung fu leap across a gorge to escape the samurai. Wang makes it to the temple but is later betrayed by his friend.

Enter Zatoichi. He comes across the dying Chinese father and his son. He finds out what happens from the boy and thinks that Wang had something to do with it. He finds out from a witness that it was not Wang but, the samurai who killed innocent people.


The closing fight of this film pits Wang and Zatoichi. They fight it out in what looks like a rock quarry. Two women who have fallen in love with them do nothing to stop it. Wang and Zatoichi battle and in the end Zatoichi delivers the final blow. Both regret their combat and blame their lack of linguistic comprehension for the duel.  

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