Zatôichi Goes to the Fire Festival

Zatôichi Goes to the Fire Festival
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5.3/10 by 6 users

Zatoichi is mentored by the blind leader of a secret organization as he contends with both the Yakuza and a jealous husband.

Title:Zatôichi Goes to the Fire Festival
Original Title:Zatōichi abare-himatsuri
Release Date:August 12, 1970
Genres:Adventure, Action, Drama
Production Co.:Daiei Motion Picture Company
Production Countries:Japan
Director:Kenji Misumi
Casts:, , , , ,
Plot Keywords:samurai, katana, zatoichi, ronin
Alternative Titles:
  • Zatoichi at the Fire Festival - [GB]
  • Zatôichi 21 - [JP]
  • Zatoichi: The Festival of Fire - [AU]
  • le shogun de l'ombre - [FR]
  • Zatôichi 21 Zatôichi Goes to the Fire Festival - [US]

Zatôichi Goes to the Fire Festival Reviews

  • Wow! Tatsuya Nakadai in Zatoichi
    by gkbazalo on 27 July 2004

    19 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

    I couldn't believe it when I saw Tatsuya Nakadai (Yojimbo, Sanjuro, Harakiri, High and Low, Ran, etc,etc) pop up in this Zatoichi episode as a crazed, jilted husband out for revenge on almost everyone, including Zatoichi. I noticed the credits had a variation of his name (Nakayo, I think it was). We also have Masayuki Mori (Rashomon, The Idiot, etc) as the mandatory evil boss. Only this time, the evil boss is an evil SUPERBOSS, he's blind (and therefore obviously much more dangerous) and resembles Fritz Lang's Dr. Mabuse. We also have a great humorous side story with Peter (the blind younger brother in Ran) playing an effeminate pimp who tries to seduce and kill Zatoichi --a riot--in order to enter the local yakuza gang. There's also a very funny scene with two roadhouse employees that had me laughing out loud. The cast, characters and plot really set this one above many of the Zatoichi's, including the one Katsu did with Toshiro Mifune (Zatoichi vs. Yojimbo). The film is directed by Kenji Misumi, who directed some of the best Zatoichi films as well as several of the Lone Wolf and Cub series. An absolute must-see for Zatoichi fans and highly recommended for sumarai movie fans. As a Zatoichi movie, 11 out of 10, as a samurai movie or on any other basis, 9 of 10.

  • One of the best in the Zatoichi series.
    by Infofreak on 27 July 2004

    11 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

    'Zatoichi At The Fire Festival' was the 21st entry in the popular martial arts series that starred Shintaro Katsu as the blind swordsman Zatoichi. This time around Zatoichi (who moonlights as a masseur) is present at a geisha auction. Later that night he rescues one of the sold women but she is unexpectedly murdered by a mysterious swordsman. We soon learn that he was the dead woman's husband and that he plans on killing Zatoichi because he believes that his wife slept with him. To complicate things further Zatoichi also makes an enemy of the local boss (a common occurrence in this series!), a blind man known as "the Prince Of Darkness" (played by Masayuki Mori who co-starred in Kurosawa's samurai classic 'Rashomon'), becomes a sort of mentor to a young, effeminate wanna-be pimp Umeji (played by Peter, who later appeared in Kurosawa's 'Ran'), and also falls in love with the beautiful Okiyo (Reiko Ohara). Whew! I'm a relative newcomer to these movies but I'm really loving them. Zatoichi is a fascinating character, shy and funny, but a killing machine when need be. This is one of the best in the series, and the standout scenes are a hilarious attempted seduction of Zatoichi by Umeji, and a killer nude fight sequence in a bathhouse. If Beat Takeshi's recent (excellent) 'Zatoichi' has whetted your appetite try some of the Katsu originals. They are immensely entertaining, and I'll bet twenty bucks that Tarantino is a BIG fan.

  • No butts no glory!
    by Tom (bighouseaz) on 11 March 2005

    12 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

    This entry in the Zatoichi series is firmly planted in the 1970s and at times has an almost James Bondesque feel to it. This is especially true in the bath house scene where Zatoichi goes to enjoy a calming bath and ends up attached by scores of tattooed, naked yakuza. The music is great and the scene is frenetic and fun at the same time. Wooden buckets are used strategically and in a funny way. For veteran Zatoichi fans, notice how Zatoichi's style differs when he uses someone else's sword.

    Tatsuya Nakadai does take part in Festival of Fire. He is a truly deranged and dangerous ronin. Of course it's Zatoichi's fate to meet him in the final scene.

    The colors are brilliant, there's a good musical score and it's a fine blend of humor, drama, and action. This is an entry with wide appeal for chambara fans. It's campy at times, so those who love the early Zatoichi films most might feel that this film is a bit frivolous, but for the casual viewer there is much to enjoy.

  • Sweet, often interesting and potently exiting entry in the long running chanbara series
    by t-birkhead on 26 May 2009

    5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

    I revisited this one last night, after not thinking over much of it on a first viewing some years ago. Unlike some of the more exploitative of openly deranged and violent old school swordplay outings, the Zatoichi films were it seems, pretty serious minded and fairly mild when it came to grue or craziness. This one has a tiny bit of blood splatter but its basically pretty dry. I'm more naturally suited to watching films like the Lone Wolf and Cub movies or Shintaro Katsu's own Hanzo movies, but I found myself having a good time with this film. Its definitely a mood thing but also I think that the Zatoichi films have a cumulative effect, in that the more you watch the more you come to know his character and appreciate the style of film, so each movie builds upon the last. This film sees Zatoichi arouse the jealousy of a mysterious wandering samurai and the wrath of a blind Yakuza boss, in a tale that seem almost languid in the first hour or so, before gearing up for a cracking conclusion. Of course, when I say languid I don't mean boring, the film has a variety of fun characters and a vibrant, kooky sense of humanity to it that is always oddly compelling, as well as splashes of swift and sweet swordplay as Zatoichi dispatches all comers. There are also a few moments of wacky humour like Zatoichi landing buckets on attackers heads during a pitched naked swordfight in a bath house and some eye opening moments, like Zatoichi's encounters, and near very close encounter with a gay (I assume) pimp. This last is played by the cult performer Peter in an early role. He later became a bit more known to trash fans for playing the titular role in Guinea Pig 6: Devil Woman Doctor. Also of note cast wise are veteran actor Tatsuya Nakadai, who appeared in the likes of Ran and Kagemusha, grimly determined and righteously ticked off as the jealous samurai, beautiful Reiko Ohara as a bit of a love interest for our mighty blind swordsman, and Masayuki Mori as the seemingly wise, ultimately sinister blind boss, who really comes into strikingly malign form in the finale. The last 20 minutes or so are tight and thrilling, as the earlier sense of fun and near frivolity switches into mean intensity, climaxing with a couple of fine and memorable fights and a bit of trademark bleak philosophising from Zatoichi. Everything knits together well and the film acquires a real good punch. Though I think I'll have to come back to this film after seeing more of the series down the line to appreciate it more, I can still see it as a fine film with a lot going for it for fans of this kind of cinema. I'd say its probably the second best, or maybe even the joint best of the ones I've seen thus far, parring with or slightly lesser to Zatoichi The Outlaw. So, Zatoichi fans will undoubtedly dig this one and newcomers will probably find it a good entry into the series. Those looking for faster and grislier things will likely be put off, as I initially was, but its rewarding stuff and something that definitely repays repeat viewings. Ultimately, if it looks like your sort of thing and you've read to the end of this review without being put off, why not check it out? You could do far worse, and you might really dig it.

  • Wow!
    by Colin Christian on 8 November 2014

    2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

    I bought the Criterion Bluray set,one of my best purchases ever,but mostly so I could get my hands on this movie,possibly the best in the series,and in the top 10 best Chambara flicks ever. Shintaru was in charge on this,and it shows,it has everything Zatoichi fans love,gambling,comedy,some pathos,villainy and great swordsmanship,and boy,does this flick deliver the goods! If you like Samurai cinema,this one is one of the essentials,completely engaging,action entertainment of the finest sort. The director went on to direct the Lone Wolf and Cub series,so you know you are in for a good time,it has some wild imagery,furious jaw dropping swordplay and some nice crimson too! This flick ROCKS!

  • Pretty exciting but what about that crazy husband?!
    by planktonrules on 13 June 2009

    1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

    I loved about 90% of 'Zatôichi abare-Himatsuri"--the part I didn't like and seemed unnecessary was the angry husband played by Tatsuya Nakadai. Still, because there was a lot of fresh (or reasonably fresh) material in this film, it stands as one of the better films in the series.

    Ichi is giving a massage to a man who is at an auction of high-priced mistresses. When an extremely beautiful woman is introduced, the place is a buzz--especially when the men are told she was the woman of a retainer (a high government official). However, Ichi being a Sir Galahad, of sorts, after the auction is over and the woman is being taken away, Ichi rescues her--though she doesn't seem all that relieved. Additionally, as soon as she is spirited away by Ichi, a crazed samurai appears and kills all the men who were transporting her--as well as her new master. The next morning, when she sneaks away from Ichi, this samurai appears and kills her as well. Then, throughout the film, this killer appears from out of no where to tell Ichi that he will kill him because he defiled his wife (which Ichi hadn't). This angry husband was a scary guy but also made little sense in the film. After a while, he seemed more like a plot device than a real person.

    Aside from this (and it was NOT a huge portion of the script), the film was exceptional. It seems that there's a super-boss who is incredibly rich and powerful--probably more than any Ichi had encountered before in other films. The surprise is that this boss is blind and at first he and Ichi are friends. However, the blind boss is at heart a major creep and naturally he orders Ichi's death (you'd think they'd learn and just leave Zatoichi alone).

    The assassination attempts help to elevate this film from the norm. The first is rather cheesy but also great fun. As Ichi is bathing in a public bath house, assassins converge and it's an all-out naked mêlée! While you see a lot of butts, it is funny seeing how the camera avoids showing any genitalia--and it's all pretty silly. When Ichi began tossing buckets on everyone's head and fighting, I must say I'd never seen a Zatoichi film like this before--and I've seen all but one of the films. The big "boss battle" at the end is also really exciting, as the blind boss uses his brain to defeat Ichi. The final scene on the island is once again unique--something you don't see in most of the Zatoichi films--where repetition is the norm.

    A few of the other unusual things to look for are the homosexual who falls for Ichi and tries to seduce him, the female assassin who naturally falls for Ichi instead of killing him and Ichi reading a form of Braille (which, I assume they did NOT have in Japan in the 1830s, as the country was essentially closed to foreigners and foreign influences, so they could not have known about Braille's innovation).

    Overall, very good. I just wish they'd hashed out the one character more or eliminated him from the film. That crazed husband just seemed crazy.

  • Zatoichi Goes to the Fire Festival (1970)
    by mevmijaumau on 21 April 2017

    from Croatia

    Zatoichi Goes to the Fire Festival (he doesn't actually, there's some poetic freedom in that title) is the 21st film in the series, and by this point, things have gotten beyond stale. This is actually one of the least formulaic entries in the series (it's co-written by the star Shintaro Katsu), but by now, I just don't really care that much for the stories here. It all seems like something we've already seen before.

    The cast in ZGttFF is comprised of several well-known faces. The mystery ronin here is played by the brooding Tatsuya Nakadai, who, as expected, gives the best performance. Peter (the transvestite from Ran and Funeral Parade of Roses) appears as a flamboyant wannabe yakuza thug. Masayuki Mori plays the diabolical blind yakuza lord who may be the most wicked villain so far, with Ko Nishimura (once more) as his henchman.

    But really, this entry completely failed to draw me in, and I fear that the remaining few films won't have much new to offer either. The film suffers from severe tonal dis-balance, due to which it never really finds a solid footing. There are so many sub-plots here that the main string is hard to find. Nakadai's plot is the most interesting in its depiction of a troubled, violent ronin eaten by jealousy, and there are nifty surreal flashbacks to his past. Mori's sub-plot is kind of similar in tone, but is too talky and filled with too much dead air at times, which ruins the action flick pace a bit. Then, the film takes a pseudo-romantic turn, with a young woman (who's actually a spy for the blind lord) going for Zatoichi, which I didn't care for in the least. Then there's the needless sub-plot with Peter, filled with homoerotic undertones. Then the odd touches of comedy, particularly a baffling bath-house swords-fighting scene where Zatoichi slaughters a bunch of thugs to Oriental surf music and comically struggles to cover up his junk in the process.

    There are quite a few good individual scenes in the movie (and I'm glad Zatoichi has hair again because the bald look really doesn't fit him), particularly the amusing fight between a bickering village couple randomly thrown into the film, but all in all this just didn't do anything for me. Not as generic as some of the other ones, but didn't feel like anything new either. As a useless side-note, this may or may not (I don't exactly remember) be the first Zatoichi film where (female, duh) boobs are shown.

    Highlight of the film: the bickering married couple in the village, of course.

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