(aka "Zatoichi" or "Zatoichi - Den blinde samurai (Denmark)")

http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/direct-chair/kitano.htm
Japan 2003

When Kitano was asked to make another ”Zatoichi” film, he instantly turned it down, because, as he later said, “Zatoichi and Shintaro Katsu are pronounced in the same breath. If I had attempted to imitate Katsu, the audience would have rebelled, so I decided, that I had to do something completely new.”

Having been given complete control and freedom, Kitano began to reinvent Zatoichi: “Just like in soccer, which basically is one ball and 22 men chasing it, so is Zatoichi basically Zatoichi and a bunch of bad guys.”

The first thing he changed was the character of Zatoichi himself. Originally black bushy hair and with a beard, Kitano made him clean shaven and blond. Even his sword cane was both redesigned and changed in color from wood to bright red. Then he made the “evil swordsman” sympathetic, added a caring and moral nature, promoted him to lead-ish man and cast the hottest actor in Japan, Tadanobu Asano, for the part. So going thru the characters, altering each and everyone of them – even adding a few news ones, like the traveling geishas.

While changing just about every element of Zatoichi, the biggest and boldest change was the ending. Normal for jidei-geki is that the peasants will celebrate their freedom at the end. Kitano took this and made it into an almost ten minutes tap dance sequence, where not only the peasants dance, but the cast joins them. The dance itself is a contemporized version of Takatsuki, a classical Kabuki tap form, where the dancers originally wore Japanese wood clogs. Not only of incredible emotional force, this ending is also a wonderful homage to both jidei-geki and Kabuki theatre. A stroke of genius, this shows why Kitano is amongst the greatest living filmmakers.

The story itself is as straight forward as any Zatoichi, as any chambara, as any jidei-geki. Stealing from here and there, Zatoichi is as usual wandering the country side, when he comes to a small town, where the peasants are caught between two rival gangs. When the Ginzo gang hires a Ronin, he soon takes control of the town. Zatoichi has to clean up.

Far from being just simple chambara, Kitano explores the motif of pretending: duality by wearing a “mask”. Just like the film itself, nothing is what it seems. For instance, the Hattori, the “evil swordsman”, is a Ronin, who is forced to become a hit man for Ginzo in order to buy medicine for his sick wife. This dimension of the story not only adds complexity, but makes additional viewings even more enjoyable, as the more we get to know a character, the more we see of the real character.

Winning the Silver Lion for best director in Venice and going around the world, leaving nothing but rave reviews and praise in its wake, “Zatoichi” is nothing less than an experience, with great (and extremely bloody) swordfights and an ending, that will put a huge smile on your face. It may be Kitano Light, but it is still unmistakably a film by the master.
out of

 

Henrik Sylow of kitanotakeshi.com

Posters

Theatrical Release: September 2, 2003 (Venice International Film Festival)

Reviews    More Reviews  DVD Reviews

DVD Comparison:

Artificial Eye (Collector's Edition) - Region 2- PAL vs. Seville Pictures - Region 1- NTSC vs. Miramax - Region 1- NTSC vs. Artificial Eye - Region 2- PAL vs. Panorama Entertainment (Hong Kong) 1 DVD5 DISC - Region 3 - NTSC vs. Panorama Entertainment (Hong Kong) - 2 DISC (Film - DVD9)  Region 3 - NTSC vs. Bandai Visuals - Region 2 - NTSC

Big thanks to Pavel Borodin for the Panorama 2 disc captures and Henrik Sylow of Kitano Takeshi . com for the rest!

(Artificial Eye (Collectors Edition) - Region 2- PAL TOP LEFT  vs. Seville Pictures (Canada)- Region 1- NTSC TOP 2nd vs. Miramax - Region 1- NTSC  TOP 3rd vs. Artificial Eye - Region 2- PAL TOP RIGHT vs. Panorama Entertainment (1 DISC) - Region 3 - NTSC -BOTTOM LEFT vs. Panorama Entertainment (2 DISC) - Region 3 - NTSC - BOTTOM MIDDLE vs. Bandai Visuals - Region 2 - NTSC - BOTTOM RIGHT)

DVD Box Covers

Mouse over above box cover to see metal case!

    

Distribution

Artificial Eye

Region 2 - PAL

Seville Pictures (Canada)

Region 1- NTSC

Miramax

Region 1- NTSC

Artificial Eye
Region 2 - PAL
Runtime 1:51:02 (4% PAL speedup) 1:55:56

1:55:58

1:51:00 ( 4% PAL speedup)
Video

1.85:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 7.12 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

1.80:1 Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 7.52 mb/s
NTSC 704x480 29.97 f/s

1.80:1 Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 5.78 mb/s
NTSC 704x480 29.97 f/s

1.85:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 6.39 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

 

 

 

 

 

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Panorama Entertainment (1 Disc)

Region 3  - NTSC

Panorama Entertainment (2 Disc)

Region 3  - NTSC

Bandai Visuals

Region 2 - NTSC

1:55:20 1:55:20 1:55:56

1.78:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 5.0 mb/s
NTSC 704x480 29.97 f/s

1.78:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 8.28 mb/s
NTSC 704x480 29.97 f/s

1.78:1 Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 7.59 mb/s
NTSC 704x480 29.97 f/s

Bitrate:

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Artificial Eye (PAL) (Collectors edition)

    

Seville - R1 (Canada) + Miramax - Region 1- NTSC

   

Artificial Eye

+

 Panorama (1 disc)

    

 

Panorama (2 disc)

+

Bandai

    

 

 

ARTIFICIAL EYE

(COLLECTORS)

SEVILLE MIRAMAX ARTIFICIAL EYE PANORAMA (DVD5) PANORAMA (DVD5) BANDAI VISUALS
Audio 2.0 Dolby Digital Japanese, 5.1 Dolby Digital Japanese, DTS Japanese 5.1 Dolby Digital Japanese, 5.1 Dolby Digital English (dub), 5.1 Dolby Digital French (dub) 5.1 Dolby Digital Japanese, 5.1 Dolby Digital English (dub) 2.0 Dolby Digital Japanese, 5.1 Dolby Digital Japanese 2.0 Dolby Digital Japanese, 5.1 Dolby Digital Japanese, 2.0 Dolby Digital Cantonese (NO Japanese DTS) Japanese (Dolby Digital 2.0, Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS), Cantonese (Dolby Digital 5.1)

2.0 Dolby Digital Japanese, 5.1 Dolby Digital Japanese

Subtitles English, None English, French, None English, French, Spanish, None English, and none English, Chinese, and none English, Chinese, and none English, Japanese and none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Artificial Eye

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.85:1

Edition Details:
• Making of 'Zatoichi' (39:59)
• Interviews
• - Kitano Takeshi (27:06)
• - Kitano Takeshi (12:46)
• - Mori Masayuki (3:37)
• - Nikamoto Tatsumi & Tokora Hiroaki (7:49)
• - Kurosawa Kazuko (7:11)
• - Isoda Norihiro (5:52)
• - Yanagishima Katsumi (5:15)
• - Hideboh (5:34)
• - Suzuki Keiichi (5:39)
• - Horiuchi Senji (7:18)
• - Fnac Masterclass (32:26)
• Theatrical Trailer (1:33)
• Stills Galleries and filmographies

DVD Release Date: January 25, 2005
Metal box and double amarey

Chapters 13

Release Information:
Studio:
Seville Pictures

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.80:1

Edition Details:
• Disc 1 - film
• Disc 2
Trailer (2:31)
Making of 'Zatoichi' (39:52)
Masterclass (32:20)
Interviews (52:03)
- Mori Masayuki
- Nikamoto Tatsumi & Tokora Hiroaki
- Kurosawa Kazuko
- Isoda Norihiro
- Yanagishima Katsumi
- Hideboh
- Suzuki Keiichi
- Horiuchi Senji


DVD Release Date: December 7th, 2004
Dual slim keep case

Chapters 21

Release Information:
Studio: Buena Vista

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.80:1

Edition Details:
• Making of 'Zatoichi' (39:53)
• Katsumi Yanagishima (4:26)
• Norihiro Isoda (5:40)
• Kazuko Kurosawa (6:58)
• Tatsumi Nikamoto (4:25)

DVD Release Date: November 9th, 2004
Dual slim keep case

Chapters 21

Release Information:
Studio: Artificial Eye

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.85:1

Edition Details:
• Making of 'Zatoichi' (39:58)
• AE UK trailer (1:32)
• Kitano biography
• Asano biography
• Stills gallery


DVD Release Date: July 26, 2004
Transparent Keep Case

Chapters 13

Release Information:
Studio: Panorama Entertainment

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.78:1

Edition Details:
• None

DVD Release Date: May 10th, 2004
Keep Case

Chapters 12

 

Release Information:
Studio: Panorama Entertainment

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.78:1

Edition Details:

Making of (40:18)

(the same as the one on the Bandai.)

Interviews (47:57)
- Mori Masayuki (Producer) 3:35
- Fight Choreograph 7:46
- Kazuko Kurosawa (Costumes) 7:08
- Isoda Norihiro (Production Design) 5:49
- Yanagishima Katsumi (Cinematography) 5:12
- Hideboh (The Stripes) 5:38
- Suji (Tap Choreograph) 5:35
- Horiuchi Senji (Sound) 7:14
3 small Zatoichi posters


DVD Release Date: April 22nd, 2004
Keep Case

Chapters 12

Release Information:
Studio: Bandai Visuals

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.78:1

Edition Details:
• Original Japanese Teaser (0:59)
• Original Japanese Trailer (1:24)
• TV Spot (0:15)
• TV Spot (0:30)
• Making of 'Zatoichi' (42:28)
• Behind the scenes (58:34)
• Turn your phone off infomercial (0:29)
• Gag reel (3:31)

DVD Release Date: March 11, 2004
White amaray dual disc case

Chapters 14

 


 

 

Comments:
ADDITION: Seville Pictures - (CANADA) - Region 1- NTSC - An identical image to the US Miramax. Same colour scheme and same high contrast. The Seville is microscopically better, but only by zoom 500%. Far better is the extra material, which is the full production interviews, the making of and the French master class. It is still no match to the Artificial Eye CE, but it is a great DVD set.

*****

ADDITION: Artificial Eye - Collectors Edition (Dec -04) The image is completely identical to the former AE DVD, so no comments here.

The first difference is in the sound department. AE has removed the documentary from Disc 1 to give space to the DTS track. While the sound mix of “Zatoichi” is impressive, the DTS track is superior. It is more precise, has more “oomph” and is simply more dynamic than the 5.1 DD.

AE has kept the 40 minute documentary, which starts the additional material on Disc 2.

Prior not available to them, they have now added the 48 minute interview reel. Where Miramax both reduced the interviews from 8 to 4, and further edited the remaining, here are the complete 8 interviews for the first time with English subtitles.

Continuing, AE has added two recently made interviews with Kitano, one of them not previously released. Running a total of 40 minutes, the two interviews, while overlapping somewhat, are highly informative and Kitano at his best. The 27-minute interview was previously released on the French “Edition Collector” from Wild Side Video.

Also from Wild Side Video and previously released on the “Edition Collector” is part of the Kitano Master class, which was held in Paris, October 14, 2003. It is at times like this I regret not going, as I was invited. There is some perverse enjoyment of me appearing on an extra, but anyways… It is a great Q/A, where Kitano talks about his style, techniques and past.

The DVD comes in a black metal box in relief pressing. It is a limited edition. Apart from the 2 DVDs, three postcards, a 35mm strip from the film (containing the limited number) and a 12 page booklet is added. The booklet contains the same text as the press booklet, but here with a specially written introduction by Kitano himself.

This is the definitive DVD release of “Zatoichi”. A beautiful picture, true to the original colour scheme, the superior DTS track and carefully chosen additional material.

*****

ADDITION: MIRAMAX (November -03) - Where all other editions of "Zatoichi" have the neutral colour composition of the original, Miramax has changed it to a more 'realistic" colour scheme, where fleshtones are more 'fleshy'. All in all the colours of the Miramax DVD are incredible vivid and looks stunning. It just isn't the way the film looked originally or elsewhere.

The Miramax DVD is also the edition which is sharpest in details, but also suffers badly from edge enhancements.

As additional material, Miramax has added the standard 40 minute Making of featurette in a dubbed form. This was expected and is indeed a great featurette. But then Miramax lives up to its nickname: MiramAXE. Following are four interviews. On all other DVDs this feature has 8 interviews running 48 minutes. On Miramax, there are only 4 (producer, sound, music and choreographer are missing). If that isn't bad enough, Miramax has also edited the interviews (read: Cut them in duration). For instance Nikamoto's interview runs 7:46 originally, on the Miramax DVD only 4:25. All in all, 8 interviews have been reduced to 4, and 25:57 minutes have been reduced by 4:28 to 21:29 minutes.

If edge enhancements and miramAX'ed interviews wasn't bad enough, Miramax also included a 5.1 Dolby Digital English dubbed track, which is nothing less than horrible. The dub's are uninvolved and the entire mood of the film is destroyed. To put an English dub on a film like this is quiet an insult.

**********

ADDITION (AE - July 04):

The "Making of" documentary is the same as on the Bandai, only shorter in duration due to PAL Speed-Up. Here with English subtitles, we finally, as English speaking audience, get to know what was said and done. For a documentary about Kitano, this is quiet informative.

The AE picture is lesser detailed, is darker, is more "yellowish" and has more contrast than the Bandai. It also is slighty cropped from 1.78:1 to 1.85:1. The cropping and the contrast most likely is due to this being a theatrical print. The sound is the same as on the Bandai and it really was a good decision to keep the 5.1 track, where AE normally are 2.0 only.

Finally the cover is a flipper, which means, that it on the one side has the black "Zatoichi" look and if you turn it, you get the AE look cover. That was a great idea.

********

Where Bandai originally announced, that their initial 2-Disc SE would be replaced by a 1-Disc Film Only (see below), Panorama has simply chosen to release two different versions: A 2-Disc SE and a 1-Disc Film Only.

One would expect the presentation of the film to be identical, it is not. First of all, the Film Only is a DVD5 versus the SE DVD9. This means less storage and the film is compressed by 40%, reflected by the 40% lower bitrate, which is visible. The Film Only is less detailed than the SE and has added contrast and brightness. This is a poor DVD.

The 2-Disc SE has two significant things. The first is the eight interviews with the production crew running almost an hour. The same interviews will be found on the French 2-Disc SE from Wild Side Video in July. The downside is that they are in Japanese and only with Chinese subtitles. The other thing, which most can enjoy, is the DTS track. While the entire Japanese mix is awesome, even in DD 2.0, the DTS just is more "umph" and richer in definition, especially in the rears.

********

The Bandai:

This is the 2 Disc Special Edition of "Zatoichi" (First Print). Once it is sold out, only single discs editions will be available (identical with Disc 1 on this set).

The picture is spot on: great contrasts, great colors (NOTE: it is 1.78:1 and not the theatrical ratio of 1.85:1). The sound is very impressive for a period piece, as both the rears and LFE working for a living.

The only negative remark this DVD set will get, is the lack of English subtitles on Disc 2, which makes the 'making of' documentaries less attractive and comprehensive for non Japanese speaking viewers.

- Henrik Sylow of kitanotakeshi.com

According to Geoffrey Wong of Panorama Entertainment, the high contrast on the DVD5 version of "Zatoichi" is due to a problem on the master: ”When we receive the master tape, the high contrast problem already exist, and this is the best quality available.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 





DVD Menus


(Artificial Eye - Region 2- PAL LEFT vs. Seville Pictures (Canada) - Region 1- NTSC 2nd vs. Miramax - Region 1- NTSC 3rd vs. Artificial Eye - Region 2- PAL
RIGHT)

 
 
     

 

 (Panorama Entertainment (1 DISC) - Region 3 - NTSC - LEFT vs Panorama Entertainment (2 DISC) - Region 3 - NTSC - MIDDLE vs. Bandai Visuals - Region 2 - NTSC - RIGHT)

 

 

 


 

Subtitle Samples

 

(Seville - Region 1- NTSC - TOP vs. Miramax - Region 1- NTSC 2nd - vs. Artificial Eye - Region 2- PAL (and AE- CE) 3rd vs. Panorama Entertainment (1 DISC) - Region 3 - NTSC - 4th vs. Panorama Entertainment (2 DISC) - Region 3 - NTSC - 5th vs. Bandai Visuals - Region 2 - NTSC - BOTTOM)

 

 

 

 


 

 

Screen Captures

 

(Miramax (and Seville) - Region 1 - NTSC TOPvs. Artificial Eye - Region 2- PAL (and AE- CE)  2nd vs. Panorama Entertainment (1 DISC) - Region 3 - NTSC - 3rd vs. Panorama Entertainment (2 DISC) - Region 3 - NTSC - 4th vs. Bandai Visuals - Region 2 - NTSC - BOTTOM)

 

 

 


 

 

(Miramax (and Seville) - Region 1 - NTSC TOPvs. Artificial Eye - Region 2- PAL (and AE- CE) 2nd vs. Panorama Entertainment (1 DISC) - Region 3 - NTSC - 3rd vs. Panorama Entertainment (2 DISC) - Region 3 - NTSC - 4th vs. Bandai Visuals - Region 2 - NTSC - BOTTOM)

 

 

 


 

(Miramax (and Seville)  - Region 1 - NTSC TOPvs. Artificial Eye - Region 2- PAL (and AE- CE) 2nd vs. Panorama Entertainment (1 DISC) - Region 3 - NTSC - 3rd vs. Panorama Entertainment (2 DISC) - Region 3 - NTSC - 4th vs. Bandai Visuals - Region 2 - NTSC - BOTTOM)

 

 

 

 


 

(Miramax (and Seville)  - Region 1 - NTSC TOPvs. Artificial Eye - Region 2- PAL (and AE- CE) 2nd vs. Panorama Entertainment (1 DISC) - Region 3 - NTSC - 3rd vs. Panorama Entertainment (2 DISC) - Region 3 - NTSC - 4th vs. Bandai Visuals - Region 2 - NTSC - BOTTOM)

 

 

 

 


(Miramax (and Seville) - Region 1 - NTSC TOPvs. Artificial Eye - Region 2- PAL (and AE- CE) 2nd vs. Panorama Entertainment (1 DISC) - Region 3 - NTSC - 3rd vs. Panorama Entertainment (2 DISC) - Region 3 - NTSC - 4th vs. Bandai Visuals - Region 2 - NTSC - BOTTOM)

 

 

 

 


 

(Miramax (and Seville)  - Region 1 - NTSC TOPvs. Artificial Eye - Region 2- PAL (and AE- CE) 2nd vs. Panorama Entertainment (1 DISC) - Region 3 - NTSC - 3rd vs. Panorama Entertainment (2 DISC) - Region 3 - NTSC - 4th vs. Bandai Visuals - Region 2 - NTSC - BOTTOM)

 

 

 


 Hit Counter


Report Card:

 

Image:

Bandai

Sound:

Artificial Eye - CE  (DTS)

Extras: Artificial Eye - CE
Menu:

Artificial Eye - CE

 

 

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Bandai Visuals

Region 2 - NTSC

 

 

 

DVD Box Covers

Mouse over above box cover to see metal case!

    

Distribution

Artificial Eye

Region 2 - PAL

Seville Pictures (Canada)

Region 1- NTSC

Miramax

Region 1- NTSC

Artificial Eye
Region 2 - PAL

 

 


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