With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013
With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

Friday, November 29, 2013

ACF 2037: Remembering Shintarô Katsu on his birthday

Shintarô Katsu as Zatoichi

Today marks the 82nd anniversary of the birth of Shintarô Katsu. Born Toshio Okumura on  November 29th, 1931 in Fukagawa, Tokyo, Japan, Katsu is one of the most beloved Japanese actors. His IMDb credits list him as an actor in 121 films. He also has twenty credits as producer, seven as director, and four as writer. He died on June 21st, 1997 in Kashiwa, Chiba, Japan.

He is, of course, most well known for his role as Zatoichi, the blind masseur, yakuza and swordsman, in twenty-five films and several TV shows. Another of his notable roles was as Hanzo 'The Razor' Itami in three films released 1972-1974. This character is an incorruptible and unorthodox magistrate who is prodigiously endowed. He pounds his ample meat and rams it into sacks of uncooked rice to toughen it up, so that he can maintain his rigidity while "interrogating" female suspects.

Katsu as Hanzo "The Razor"

Just a few days ago, The Criterion Collection released the awesome box set Zatoich: The Blind Swordsman. It contains 25 movies on both DVD (seventeen discs) and Blu-ray (nine discs). Supplements are on both a separate eighteenth DVD and on the ninth Blu-ray disc. There is also a slim hardcover book that has an essay by Geoffrey O'Brien, synopses of the films by Chris D., and "The Tale of Zatoichi," the original short story by Kan Shimozawa. To say it's an awesome box set is an understatement.

Barnes and Noble is offering the Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman box set (as well as all other Criterion releases) at 50% off, but only through the end of November. So act immediately if you want to take advantage of this incredible bargain. Otherwise you'll have to wait for the next 50% off offer from Barnes and Noble or from Criterion to enjoy such a great deal.