Notable Cast: Shintaro Katsu, Tomisaburo Wakayama, Yaeko Mizutani, Masayo Banri
Due to the lack of home video and limited theatrical showings, many films from the decades before the 80s played out more like serials. Instead of direct sequels, they would have characters return for ‘another adventure’ or ‘another quest’ instead of relying so directly on previous entries. This is how I assumed the Zatoichi series would play out, but when they called the second film The Tale of Zatoichi Continues they sure as hell meant it. It’s a direct sequel to the first film, pulling heavily (with little in the way of exposition) on those events and building on top of them to deliver a film that almost matches the awesome execution of The Tale of Zatoichi.
Zatoichi (Shintaro Katsu) has been wandering about his way for the last year and has decided to fulfill his promise to return to the slain samurai’s grave in the small village where he vanquished him. Unfortunately, on his way there he has come until some unwanted knowledge about a traveling lord that his a league of samurai out for his head. On top of that, a mysterious traveling ronin and his sidekick have taken an interest in Zatoichi too, leading them towards an inevitable battle founded in the past.
|Side by side, they faced each other...
At a ridiculously brisk 72 minutes, Continues packs a lot of punch in a very short time. With a new director at the helm, Kazuo Mori emulates the atmosphere and style of the first one pretty impressively. There is a bit more action to be had, including a more traditional feeling sword fight in the opening bit and another pending duel in the last act that add to the stakes. Truthfully there are only two things that hinder this sequel from reaching the heights of the first film and it’s the rather melodramatic score and the odd way that end of the film occurs. Neither are huge determents towards the samurai film experience, but do pull it back just enough.
|All against all.