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Zatoichi and the One-Armed Swordsman (1971)

Shin Zatôichi: Yabure! Tôjin-ken (original title)
Not Rated | | Action, Adventure, Drama | 13 January 1971 (Japan)
Two of Japan and China's greatest heroic swordsman find themselves caught in a plot to protect a young child. But will national distrust and simple misunderstanding keep the two kindred spirits apart?


Kimiyoshi Yasuda


Kan Shimozawa (story), Takayuki Yamada | 1 more credit »
1 win. See more awards »


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Zatoichi meets an infamous blind leader of a gangster organization as he contends with a gloomy ronin widower.

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After accidentally causing an old lady's death, Zatoichi seeks out her daughter to atone for the tragedy, consequently getting into all sorts of trouble.

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Zatoichi returns to his home village for the first time in over ten years to find much has changed and that corruption abounds.

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Zatoichi is tricked by a crime gang into killing a man. Realizing his mistake, he sets out to protect the dead man's sister, who is conflicted in accepting his help.

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Zatoichi runs afoul of some evil fugitives, working for a corrupt law official.

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In a town where debt-ridden peasants are being ruthlessly exploited, Zatoichi is forced to take sides between a cruel yakuza boss and his seemingly altruistic rival.

Director: Satsuo Yamamoto
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After an artist is threatened by the yakuza into creating valuable but highly illegal pornography, the law aims to execute him. Zatoichi, having been honor bound to protect the man and his family, must now run against the law.

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Zatoichi, while fighting off the usual group of gangsters, meets the apprentice of the swordsman who created his blade, who relays bad news about the sword.

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Zatoichi's trek through 88 temples to atone for his violent past is interrupted as he stumbles into a village terrorized by a violent yakuza boss.

Director: Kazuo Ikehiro
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Promising to make a delivery for a dying man, the blind swordsman Zatoichi comes across the usual crime gangs but also meets a blind monk who brings into question his use of violence.

Director: Tokuzô Tanaka
Stars: Shintarô Katsu, Shigeru Amachi, Jun Hamamura


Credited cast:
Shintarô Katsu ... Zatôichi
Jimmy Wang Yu ... Wang Kong / One-armed Swordsman (as Yu Wang)
Watako Hamaki Watako Hamaki ... Sen
Michie Terada Michie Terada ... Yone
Kôji Nanbara Kôji Nanbara ... Kakuzen
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Tôru Abe Tôru Abe ... Boss Toubei
Katsutoshi Akiyama Katsutoshi Akiyama
Yûtarô Ban Yûtarô Ban
Yi Chang ... Shamo
Yûji Hamada Yûji Hamada
Tokue Hanazawa Tokue Hanazawa
Seishirô Hara Seishirô Hara
Tsutomu Hashimoto Tsutomu Hashimoto
Shirô Itô ... Stooge
Tadashi Iwata Tadashi Iwata


While traveling the Japanese countryside the blind masseur Zatoichi comes across the One Armed Swordsman, Wang Kang, who is in hiding and protecting a child from a corrupt Japanese priest and a group of yakuza. Zatoichi and Wang Kang, each from very different worlds yet heroic swordsman in their own right, at first seem to get along but a language barrier and a series of misunderstanding leads Kang to distrust Ichi. Soon the two heroes are at each other throats while each attempts to stop the true villains from taking the child. Written by Daniel Jos. Leary

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A legendary figure in Japan is Zatoichi - the blind masseur with healing hands and a swift sword.


Not Rated | See all certifications »



Japan | Hong Kong


Japanese | Mandarin

Release Date:

13 January 1971 (Japan) See more »

Also Known As:

The Blind Swordsman Meets His Equal See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)


Color (Daieicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Unlike many Hong Kong and Taiwanese films (including an Ozploitation film The Dragon Flies (1975)) he ever performed in the 70s, this was the only film Jimmy Wang Yu's real voice can be heard from start to finish, which means it was filmed in live sound where each actor's voice is captured during filming. See more »

Alternate Versions

Chinese version has an extra fight scene between a priest and the one armed swordsman. The outcome of the final duel is also different. See more »


Follows Zatoichi's Cane Sword (1967) See more »

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User Reviews

Zatoichi Meets the One-Armed Swordsman (1971)
1 May 2017 | by mevmijaumauSee all my reviews

It's rare to see that the 22nd installment of a franchise gets to be its finest. I'm still not exactly sure if Zatoichi Meets the One-Armed Swordsman is my exact favorite so far, but it's definitely up there. In the review for the last film I said that that it'll be hard to make the series interesting or fresh for the final few outings, but #22 does it by not following the plot formula that the previous films established and by putting Zatoichi against a charismatic, capable rival.

It's a crossover with the One-Armed Swordsman films starring Jimmy Wang Yu, the third Zatoichi crossover in a row. The Mifune one was utterly meh, and the Nakadai one was barely even a crossover in how he was used in a small side-plot, so it's easy to say this one surpasses them with ease. Zatoichi and the One-Armed Swordsman cannot understand each other because of the language barrier, which sets in motion a very interesting story, but also stands as a simple, but oddly effective metaphor for the cultural differences and conflicts between China and Japan.

To add to this, the final duel in this film definitely doesn't have a predictable outcome like the Zatoichi vs Yojimbo one had. I was actually surprised at it. Also, the sword-fighting scenes are just excellent all throughout the film. The only real weakness is lack of an unique visual style, but that really goes for any Zatoichi film directed by Kimiyoshi Yasuda.

Highlight of the film: a thug getting his arm chopped off by Zatoichi and not even realizing it until he sees it in front of himself.

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