Takeshi Kitano takes on a legend of Japanese samurai films and updates it in his own, inimitable style. The story of Zatoichi, the blind masseur with a deadly sword hidden in his cane ran from 1962 – 1989, with 26 instalments, all starring Shintaru Katsu. Beat Takeshi leads in this new episode, faced down by equally popular actor Asano. Set in the 19th century, the story is simple but cross-cut with sub-plots. The director describes it as “about a guy who comes into town and cuts down everybody in sight and then leaves.” The proceedings are accelerated, with a blood-bank-full of carefully choreographed swordplay, offbeat comedy, and stunning set-pieces set to a syncopated soundtrack. With a wry nod to Kurosawa (whose daughter designed costumes), Kitano delivers a real crowd-pleaser that netted him Audience Awards at Toronto and Venice where he also won Best Director.