by Chris MaGee
A lot of people have been worried about Junji Sakamoto's apparently final film in the long running Zatoichi series. Right from the get go there were a lot of unhappy film fans when it was announced that SMAP member Shingo Katori was going to be portraying the iconic Blind Swordsman (above left) in "Zatoichi: The Last". I was certainly one of them. Then things eemd a little brighter when the film's supporting cast was announced: Chieko Baisho, Youki Kudoh, Yoshio Harada, Kanzaburo Nakamura, amongst others. Not bad, not bad at all. Now though we've finally been given a reason to be excited about this film with its fatally flawed casting choice.
According to Sponichi Annex "Zatoichi: The Last" has just wrapped its two month shoot in Tsuruoka, Yamagata and to cap off principal photography Katori's Zatoichi had to face off against the film's villian, Tendou Katori, portrayed by none other than cinematic legend Tatsuya Nakadai (above right in costume). 32-year-old Katori clashed swords with the 76-year-old star of such classics as Masaki Kobayashi's "Human Condition", Kihachi Okamoto's "Sword of Doom", and Akira Kurosawa's "Yojimbo". This last scene which ended the shoot will also apparently be the climax of the film, and as much as I'm still not happy about the casting of a SMAP member as Zatoichi I have to admit that having Tatsuya Nakadai aboard gives the film a very nice bridge to the golden age of 50's and 60's chanbara movies.
"Zatoichi: The Last" is due in Japanese theatres next year. Thanks to Don Brown at Ryuganji.net for Twittering about this.