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(aka 'Zatoichi jigoku tabi" or "Showdown for Zatoichi" or "Zatoichi and the Chess Expert" or "Zatoichi's Trip to Hell" or "Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman & the Chess Expert")

directed by Kenji Misumi
Japan 19
65

Zatoichi films are all pretty similar. There are gambling (dice) scenes, Zatoichi vs. large gang fighting scenes, massaging scenes (usually of beautiful women), Zatoichi eating and drinking scenes, bath scenes, travel sequences, often a scenes with a child (or children) - and they all wonderful. One other consistent element is that they all are shot in glorious widescreen and contain some exquisite cinematography. I always find at least a couple of scenes in each film of this series to be quite breathtaking - certainly worthy of pondering over. I find these films so appealing regardless that I know exactly what is to come.

 

In this chapter Zatoichi meets a rather confident and intelligent foe in the guise of a chess expert. This is, of course, after he has easily defeated all his lesser foes who seek vengeance on his gambling prowess (sound familiar?). We have a female love interest and Zatoichi spurning her because of his opinion of his own "lowlife" status. All in all I was more enthralled with the first 3/4's of this particular film, but felt it failed slightly at the end. Still I think the world of Zatoichi so I give this   out of

   Posters from the Series


Theatrical Release: December 24th, 1965 - Japan

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DVD Review: Home Vision -  Region 1 - NTSC

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Distribution Home Vision - Region 1- NTSC
Runtime 1:27:00
Video 2.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.14 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

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

Bitrate:

Audio Japanese (Dolby Digital 2.0 Dolby) 
Subtitles English, None
Features

Release Information:
Production Company: Home Vision Entertainment

Aspect Ratio:
Original aspect Ratio 2.33:1

Edition Details:

• Trailers for Zatoichi's Vengeance, Zatoichi and the Doomed Man and Zatoichi and the Chess Expert
• liner notes by Michael Jeck
• a reproduction of the theatrical poster

DVD Release Date: May 18th, 2004

Keep Case
Chapters: 18

Comments:

Great work by Home Vision - they maintain the ratio, keep the original audio, have removable non-intrusive white subtitles, even a poster included... my only complaint is the audio appeared out of sync at times, so much so that I noticed it on a number of occasions. Still, the colors are beautiful with accurate skin tones and solid contrast. I am totally indebted to Home Vision for bringing these out on DVD with such good quality. No one else would have and each release just appears to be improving! out of .

Gary W. Tooze


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CLICK to order from:

Distribution Home Vision - Region 1- NTSC


 

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Gary Tooze