Saturday, March 26, 2011


I never really heard any buzz about Ichi by Fumihiko Sori. I'm not sure if that's because I haven't had my ear to the ground enough or because it hasn't gotten enough attention.

It's a remake cum sequel to Zatoichi, much as John Singleton's Shaft is to Shaft by Gordon Parks. It tells the story of a blind woman named Ichi, played by Haruka Ayase, who is seeking out her mentor, and possible father, who we learn is the Ichi of the Zatoichi movies.

We meet her wandering after she has been cast out from her community, among other goze, blind women who sang in Japan during the Edo period. She meets up with Fujihira Toma, played by Nakamura Shidō, a samurai, whose emotional disability causes him more difficulty than her visual disability causes her.

The movie follows a fairly tried and true format, but it works beautifully. The acting and directing are first class, so it works. It's a great format. The original series is among the most successful series in Japanese history, which is why movies such as this, as well as Blindman by Ferdinando Baldi, Blind Fury by Phillip Noyce, Zatoichi by "Beat" Takeshi and Zatoichi: The Last by Junji Sakamoto, continue to revive it.

And, frankly, it usually works. I'd love to see something cause a full-scale revival series, and I'd be quite happy if they follow up from Ichi, if they could maintain something of its mood and quality.

UPDATE: If you're looking for a more in depth review, I can't recommend Ichi by Peter Nellhaus enough. It really captures a lot of the benefits I missed, "Even if Ichi turns out to be a one shot rather than a franchise, it is worth seeing for the way Sori and Ayase create a female action hero who does not cater to a juvenile male audience, but instead maintains dignity even in the worse situations."


Kimberlicious said...

i loved it! i thought it was great script wise and very beautiful visually!

Neil Sarver said...

It was a lot of fun and very interesting.

We should watch some other Zatoichi movies one day.

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