by Jack Nilan            EMail :

Ichi (2008)

Director: Fumihiko Sori

Jack   A-

IMDB    6.6



   Ichi is a goze (blind woman) singer who is travelling looking for her mentor, a blind swordsman. She helps out a samurai Toma, who was attacked by some gamblers, followers of Banki, whose money he had won. Ishi, like Zatoichi, is able to hear the dice and tell whether the results will be odd or even. Ichi even fights like her mentor using a bank handed straight stroke slash.

   After disposing of the gamblers, a local yakuza from the Shirikawa family hires Toma assuming it was he who killed the men. The Shirikawa's town is being ravaged by the Bankito. Ichi goes in to town with a young boy, Kotaro, who says that his father knows of a blind master swordsman.

   We learn that Banki was a very skilled samurai whose face had been burned. We also find out that Toma is very skilled when he actually defeats Ichi when dueling with sticks. But he is unable to draw his katana because of guilt for blinding his mother in an accident.

   Ichi has a little bell, like the one Zatoichi carried. The blind swordsman who comes to the local festival isn't Zatoichi, and Ichi is disappointed. At the festival the Bankitos attack the Shiikawa and kill the head of the family. Toma, working for the Shiikawa, is again unable to draw his sword and is knocked unconscious.

   The Bankito were going to take Tama to their boss in the mountains but Ichi explains that it was she that killed their men. After she kills ten of their men, they believe her. They take her to meet Banki.

  At camp Ichi kills two more men and Banki is convinced. Banki then fights and defeats Ichi. He then tells her Zatoichi died from am illness before he could kill him. Banki has Ichi locked in a pit. Ichi drops the little bell Zatoichi gave her. We then see her story as a child: Zatoichi left her house but left the bell with her. She grew up as a singer but was raped, and because the goze were supposed to be celibate, she gets thrown out of the society. When the man tried to attack her again, she killed him.

  Ichi then went on a search for Zatoichi. Toma rescues Ichi and Ichi tells him her Zatoichi is already dead. She wanted to find out if he was her father before she died. Toma tells her she must live.

  The Bankito attack the town again and Toma joins them. Toma still can't draw his sword and is ducking below swords. When Banki moves in to get Ichi Toma goes out to meet him. he draws his sword and stabs Banki in the duel, but Banki has also stabbed Toma. Ichi arrives to see the end and a dying Toma tells Ichi to live on.

  A dying Banki attacks Ichi and she finishes him off. Ichi and Katora visit Toma's grave and Ichi gives him a little bell like the one Zatoichi gave her. She then heads off down the road.

  I thought the movie was very good, especially for someone familiar with the Zatoichi movies. Much better than the ratings.