Kenji Misumi directs Zatoichi himself (Shintar? Katsu) as the untouchable constable from Edo, Hanzo Itami. It is interesting to note that Kenji previously directed Shintaro in the Zatoichi series and followed it up by directing Shintaro's brother (Tomisaburo Wakayama) in the Lone Wolf & Cub series. This is the first in the Hanzo trilogy and is the only one directed by Kenji Misumi (each movie had a different director).<br/><br/>Hanzo has been a constable for 4 years but has not as yet taken the policeman's blood oath. He refuses to make such an oath because the police accept gifts from the daiyamo (lords), the brothels and tradesman for the purpose of mitigating punishment or the dismissal of offenses. Hanzo's duties (according to Hanzo) is not to protect the samurai and the rich, but is instead to protect the farmers and townsmen and to be allowed to perform his duties as peace keeper and enforcer of the law. This is the only thing that he will swear in blood to.<br/><br/>Hanzo is not your typical constable. He is well known in Edo. He is equal parts Dirty Harry, Robocop, and John Holmes. Hanzo's techniques are far from clean. His ends justify his means. As a constable he has to deal with the filth and unclean. Hanzo bears the scars of many torture sessions. During the sessions he reaches some sort of nirvana (past the pain) which helps him to effectively administer torture and to experience what those he tortures feel. It is also a cleansing technique for him (sometimes with unexpected results). He knows of many different type of cleansing techniques (a.k.a. torture) including :<br/><br/>1) kneeling on triangular wooden boards, tied to a pole and having his ex-criminals servants put giant stone slabs (5 to be exact) on top of his knees.<br/><br/>2) a hot bath followed by the pouring of hot water over his penis. Then the banging of his penis with a stick into a wooden board (he has done this so many times the stool has a "large" form indented in it). Finally he has sex with a straw bag full off rice while 70's sex music is playing in the background.<br/><br/>When Kanbei the Killer escapes, Hanzo is hot on his trail. This trail leads to places Hanzo did not expect (i.e. - Omino the magical woman with a Brazilian wax job). He gets this info by using his special torture techniques (in this movie he only tortures women). There are several techniques he uses and they both involve having sex with a bound woman. One confession was obtained in a hot tub with sake (Austin Powers style) and the other in a vertical cargo net dreidel-style.<br/><br/>This movie is typical of the chambara style (dramatic samurai movie set in the Edo period). Typical elements include sword fight sequences in which one man fights many opponents, yet never more than one at a time. It is like the checkout line at Duane Reade. Death sequences are often stylize and includes the vertical gushing of blood, graphic death and dismemberments (in this movie Hanzo uses spiked iron knuckles to burst eyes and concrete slabs), the use of makeup for the hero and crazy haircuts for the villains. The movie does reflect the era it was filmed in. From the walking montage and the "hero" theme music to Hanzo's side burns, this movie is crawling with 70's nostalgia.<br/><br/>The story and action is very straight forward. The S&M elements and Hanzo himself is what stands this movie apart from others of this style. Zatoichi is a blind masseuse with excellent sword skills. Lone Wolf was the Shogun's executioner and travels with his infant son in a carriage. Hanzo relies on his "training", "persuasive" technique with women and an unwavering sense of duty. I highly recommend this movie for fans of chambara and action fans in general.<br/><br/>-Celluloid Rehab
Hanzo the Razor: Sword of Justice
Hanzo the Razor: Sword of Justice
Hanzo is an incorruptible and unorthodox officer in Edo, as famous for his self-discipline and his love shaft as his sword. Against the backdrop of his magistrate's occasional rounding up of vagrants, Hanzo learns that an infamous killer is no longer on his island prison: did he escape or was he never there? Hanzo's investigation leads him to the magistrate's mistress, the killer's former lover. Hanzo pursues political questions that suggest complicity at the highest levels. Using sexual assault, he interrogates the mistress and later the favorite of Edo's most powerful woman. Can he get to the bottom of what's going on before powerful forces get him fired or killed?
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