Blu-Ray Review: Ichi (2008)


ichi 2008 jap cielo img 218510 Blu Ray Review:  Ichi (2008)

Following the tradition of the Zatoichi: Blind Swordsman series, Ichi flips the story by centering around a blind swordswoman.  Haruka Ayase plays Ichi, a very unobtrusive, wandering goze.  The goze were blind musicians who played a stringed instrument called the samisen and offered live performances in exchange for room and board.  Her sword is hidden in her walking stick and most of the brutal jerkwads she meets up with have no idea who they’re messing with. Ichi is also a very talented and unusual swordfighter.  Her biggest rival is the cartoonish yakuza Banki-to (probably the worst part of the movie but thankfully he’s not in it much).

The director, Fumihiko Sori, who also directed the hit film Ping Pong, wanted to change up the Zatoichi formula a bit, feeling as though the prior incarnations were so prolific, there was no way to really top them.  (The Zatoichi from 2003, directed by and starring Takeshi “Beat” Kitano and featuring Tadanobu Asano as a rival samurai, is one of my all-time favorites). All of the Zatoichis have been a little different (with over 25 films, how could they not be?)  The first one going way back to 1962 was a brash gambler-type and the 2003 version was a very honorable, simple guy who defended women and travelled alone.  If you’re interested, Hulu has a bunch of them you can watch for free.

While I’m amazed it took them this long to come up with a female Zatoichi, I’m also impressed that they pulled it off so well.  Ichi as a character has great potential.  Her search for the original blind swordsman who taught her the unusual sword-drawing technique (most likely her dad) takes her through many trials but she faces every one of them with an incredible strength and will to survive.  She is very quiet, however, as if the loss of her sight took her voice, too; or maybe it was the general mistreatment she endured over the years.  I would like to know more about her, though.  Hopefully, there’s a sequel or a prequel on the horizon.

I definitely recommend Ichi.  Like many period films, it’s can get plodding at times for some but the acting, the story, the cinematography and the musical score by Lisa Gerrard (Gladiator) are all top-notch and there’s plenty of nifty swordfighting, too.  Whether you’re into Samurai movies or not, this flick is worth watching.  Just try not to confuse this Ichi with Ichi the Killer or you might be in for a bit of a surprise.

Rating: A-

Unofficial Ichi Trailer

0 Blu Ray Review:  Ichi (2008)

[Sources: Ichi The Movie Uk, Cinematical]

pixel Blu Ray Review:  Ichi (2008)

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