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Zatoichi: The Tale of Zatoichi Continues

The first Zatoichi film is a fine accomplishment in Samurai cinema, but if it had any drawbacks or missing elements it would be the limited amount of on-screen swordplay. Like a lot of origin films, it's so busy setting up the characters that it has to wait until almost the last reel to deliver the excess of action promised since frame one. But with the second film in the Zatoichi series, the filmmakers accepted that character had been properly introduced, and they fill the first sequel with ass-kicking at regular intervals throughout the 72-min. running-time. Zoku Zatoichi monogatari (1962), or Zatoichi: The Tale of Zatoichi Continues, is fine example of the best kind of sequel: one that use the first film as a springboard, and don't look back. This story revolves around Ichi (Shintaru Katsu) being hired by a feudal Lord as a masseur, but because of the Lord's madness his followers want to make sure Ichi can't spread the truth around about him. Hiring assassins to kill our blind hero, Ichi avoids his foes by hiding out with some prostitutes, but he hopes to get back to the grave of a fallen adversary on the one-year anniversary of his death. Unfortunately the bad guys find this out and plan to meet him there, and now Ichi has a gang chasing after him, a girl waiting, and a strange one-armed samurai (Tomisaburo Wakayama) following him with an unexplained hatred. Truths come to light as Ichi returns to the setting of the first film. Zatoichi: The Tale of Zatoichi Continues has lots of cool fight scenes, and it never outstays its welcome while diving a little deeper into the past of the main character. A perfect complement to the first film, and a fine picture for connoisseurs of ass-kicking. Home Vision Entertainment's DVD presents the movie in non-anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1) and monaural audio. Stills, keep-case.

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