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Zatoichi (Shintaro Katsu), the blind but immensely skilled masseur and
swordsman, wants nothing more than to get away from fighting and killing -
two things he's really good at, and thus heads for a small village that
for him meant nothing but peace and tranquility when he was there three
years ago - but the village has changed, and changed to the worse, and
before he knows it, Zatoichi is already incarcerated for a crime he did
not commit and sentenced to be hanged ... ouch.
Somehow however, the local silk merchant Eboshiya (Osamu Takizawa), a
powerful man, gets him out of jail, claiming he needs somebody to give him
a proper massage - but actually he needs a bodyguard, because Masagoro
(Sakatoshi Masakane), his own son, is after his life - and especially
after some gold he has stolen years ago -, and Masagoro is not alone but
has hired the famed Yojimbo Sassa (Toshiro Mifune) - not knowing of course
that Sassa is really a secret agent working for the Shogunate.
Soon enough, Zatoichi and Sassa face each other for the first time, but
Sassa is way too drunk to fight and eventually they go drinking some more
to Umeno (Ayako Wakao), a woman turned prostitute because of her debts to
Eboshiya, whom both Zatoichi and Sassa are in love with in their own way.
Eventually, all hell breaks loose in the little village, and the fight
between father and son turns more and more into an all-out war with big
losses on both sides - and during all of this, Zatoichi and Sassa never
get to properly fight each other, until Sassa decides to instead of
fighting Zatoichi teaming up with him, and let the blind but cunning
masseur do the looking for the gold while he has his back.
Other parties arrive in the village too, like another secret agent,
Kuzuryu (Shin Kishida) and Eboshiya's other son, Sanaemon (Toshiyuki
Hosokawa), now a official of the Shogunate, who promises to fight on his
father's side ... but in the end, all of them are only after the gold, and
eventually it is Sanaemon, the good son, who kills his father.
Zatoichi does indeed find the gold in the end, and places it - a pile
of powder actually - on the main square as bait. Soon enough, pretty much
everybody engages in the fighting and pretty much everybody is killed,
everybody but Sassa and Zatoichi, who now finally find an opportunity to
have their duel, a duel that is cut short when they are informed that
Umeno, who was on the brink of death, has made it through ... and while
Sassa rushes to her bedside, Zatoichi takes off with the gold in his
bodybelt ... until he realizes his bodybelt was cut through and all the
gold powder was blown away by the wind. When he kneels down to at least
pick up the tiniest part of the gold he still can find, he bumps into
Sassa, who's also too greedy to let a fortune go.
First things first: Zatoichi Meets Yojimbo is neither the best
of the Zatoichi- nor the best of the Yojimbo-series - but
considering that both Akira Kurosawa's Yojimbo
and the first Zatoichi were
masterpiecs, that's not really saying anything against this film. With
Zatoichi Meets Yojimbo you pretty much get exactly what you expect when
reading the title: Solid genre entertainment with two of the more
colourful genre heroes.