(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

Comparison:

Artificial Eye (Collector's Edition) - Region 2 - PAL vs.  Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL vs. Bandai Visuals - Region 2 - NTSC vs. Artificial Eye - Region 'B' - Blu-ray vs. Miramax - Region FREE - Blu-ray

Big thanks to Henrik Sylow of Kitano Takeshi.com for the SD-DVD captures

1) Artificial Eye (Collectors Edition) - Region 2- PAL TOP LEFT  

2) Artificial Eye - Region 2- PAL TOP RIGHT

3) Bandai Visuals - Region 2 - NTSC - BOTTOM LEFT

4) Artificial Eye - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM MIDDLE

5) Miramax - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM RIGHT

 

DVD Box Covers

Mouse over above box cover to see metal case!

Distribution

Artificial Eye

Region 2 - PAL

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

1.85:1 Original Aspect Ratio

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

 

 

 

 

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Bandai Visuals

Region 2 - NTSC

Artificial Eye
Region 'B' -
Blu-ray

Miramax
Region FREE -
Blu-ray
1:55:56 1:55:43 1:56:06.793

1.78:1 Aspect Ratio

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

1.85:1 Aspect Ratio
Feature size: 19,098,992,640 bytes
Video Bitrate: 18.990 Mbps

Single-layered Blu-ray - MPEG-4 AVC Video

Disc Size: 44,745,342,452 bytes
Feature size: 38,201,985,024 bytes
Video Bitrate: 36.690 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray - MPEG-4 AVC Video

Bitrate:

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

Artificial Eye (PAL) (Collectors edition)

 

Artificial Eye

+

Bandai

    

 

Artificial Eye Blu-ray

 

    

 

Miramax Blu-ray

 

    

 

ARTIFICIAL EYE

(COLLECTORS)

ARTIFICIAL EYE BANDAI VISUALS ARTIFICIAL EYE Blu-ray MIRAMAX Blu-ray
Audio 2.0 Dolby Digital Japanese, 5.1 Dolby Digital Japanese, DTS Japanese 2.0 Dolby Digital Japanese, 5.1 Dolby Digital Japanese

2.0 Dolby Digital Japanese, 5.1 Dolby Digital Japanese

DTS-HD Master Audio Japanese 2085 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2085 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio Japanese 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps

DTS-HD Master Audio English 3933 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3933 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio Japanese 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 320 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 320 kbps / Dolby Surround
Subtitles English, None English, and none English, Japanese and none English, none English, Arabic, Spanish, 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: 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: 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

Release Information:
Studio: Artificial Eye

 

1.85:1 Aspect Ratio
Feature size: 19,098,992,640 bytes
Average Bitrate: 22.00 Mbps

Single-layered Blu-ray - MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:
• Making of 'Zatoichi' (39:59)
Interviews:
• 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)

• Theatrical Trailer (1:33)


Blu-ray Release Date: October 27th, 2008
Standard Blu-ray case

Chapters 12

Release Information:
Studio: Miramax

 

1.85:1 Aspect Ratio

Disc Size: 44,745,342,452 bytes
Feature size: 38,201,985,024 bytes
Video Bitrate: 36.690 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray - MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:
• Making of 'Zatoichi' (39:59)
Interviews:
• Nikamoto Tatsumi (4:25)
• Kurosawa Kazuko (7:11)
• Isoda Norihiro (5:40)


Blu-ray Release Date: September 15th, 2009
Standard Blu-ray case

Chapters 20


Comments: NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: Miramax Blu-ray - August 09': Once again Miramax are making some poor decisions - in my opinion. If the image looks boosted to you - that's because it is. Edge-enhancement and brightness boosting altering colors (and skin tones) is prevalent. It looks cleaner and more vibrant but at what cost. It also has more information on the side edges. So the image, in one respect is improved with double the file size and double the bitrate of the Artificial Eye, but the black mark is the extensive boosting. It looks carried over from the Miramax DVD compared HERE  where Henrik states: "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."

Akin to the Miramax 'Hero' Blu-ray - This is a flaw - the DTS-HD Master 5.1 at 3933 kbps is wonderfully dynamic and strong - but it is only for the poor English DUB! The original Japanese audio is relegated to a 640 kbps at 5.1. So, they again give the DUB a lossless HD and the film's original audio isn't even rate DTS. Another bad decision Miramax.

Extras mimic the older Miramax DVD - As Henrik states in the original DVD comparison: "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.
"
 

We really don't have any option but to recommend giving this Blu-ray a pass.

Gary W. Tooze

***

ADDITION: Artificial Eye Blu-ray - November 08': Firstly, for extensive comments on 7 different SD-DVD editions, exhaustively compared, see HERE.

This Blu-ray almost played on my Region 'A' player before resorting to HTPC. The Artificial Eye logo came up, a warning and the menu started before saying that it 'Cannot play this format.' This may mean the menus are in PAL but regardless I couldn't get this to play on my stand-alone machine. Through HTPC it was effortless and the single-layered disc gave me no problems.

I think it is the most accurate reflection of how the film appeared theatrically but it doesn't reflect modern expectations of glitzy high-definition transfers. I still thought it looked wonderful if fairly flat. Colors are altered somewhat but I can only think it is the limitations of SD that altered those editions. Detail gets a bump as does contrast and black levels. The expandable captures should give you more of an idea than my words. In the end it is far superior to any of the SD-DVD editions (of which the Bandai was said to be most accurate in standard-def.)

 

Significantly there is a HD audio bump that sounded pretty darn strong. I have no quantitative way of comparing the tracks but to my ear it sounded like a significant improvement in range.

The Blu-ray has all the extra features of the Artificial Eye Collector's Edition (from 2005) except the Fnac Masterclass (32:26). The "Making of" documentary is the same as on the Bandai, only in the PAL standard. It has English subtitles. As Henrik says " For a documentary about Kitano, this is quiet informative." Included are the interviews running 48 minutes - namely 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) and Horiuchi Senji (7:18.)

For transfer this Blu-ray is an easy winner falling slightly short of the AE CE for supplements. The appears the most theatrical and I almost expected the blood splatterings to land on my face. Good job AE - let's see more!

 



DVD Menus

(Artificial Eye - Region 2- PAL LEFT vs. Artificial Eye - Region 2- PAL MIDDLE vs. Bandai Visuals - Region 2 - NTSC - RIGHT)

 

 
   

 


 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Subtitle Samples - NOTE: Cannot obtain sub samples for Blu-ray yet!

 

1) Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL (and AE- CE) - TOP

2) Bandai Visuals - Region 2 - NTSC - SECOND

3) Artificial Eye - Region 'B' Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Miramax - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


 

 

Screen Captures

 

1) Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL (and AE- CE) - TOP

2) Bandai Visuals - Region 2 - NTSC - SECOND

3) Artificial Eye - Region 'B' Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Miramax - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL (and AE- CE) - TOP

2) Bandai Visuals - Region 2 - NTSC - SECOND

3) Artificial Eye - Region 'B' Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Miramax - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

 


 


 

 


 

1) Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL (and AE- CE) - TOP

2) Bandai Visuals - Region 2 - NTSC - MIDDLE

3) Artificial Eye - Region 'B' Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1) Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL (and AE- CE) - TOP

2) Bandai Visuals - Region 2 - NTSC - SECOND

3) Artificial Eye - Region 'B' Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Miramax - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


 

1) Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL (and AE- CE) - TOP

2) Bandai Visuals - Region 2 - NTSC - SECOND

3) Artificial Eye - Region 'B' Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Miramax - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

More Miramax Blu-ray captures

 


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DVD Box Covers

Mouse over above box cover to see metal case!

Distribution

Artificial Eye

Region 2 - PAL

Artificial Eye
Region 2 - PAL

 

 

 

 

Thinking of buying from YesAsia? CLICK HERE and use THIS UPDATED BEAVER PAGE to source their very best...

 

Bandai Visuals

Region 2 - NTSC

Artificial Eye
Region 'B' -
Blu-ray

Miramax
Region FREE -
Blu-ray

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