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The Blind Menace (Shiranui kengy˘) - arthouse and international DVD / foreign language DVD / action and adventure DVD review
THE BLIND MENACE (Shiranui kengy˘) Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America rating: 3 1/2 stars
Featuring: Shintar˘ Katsu, T˘ru Abe, Mieko Kondo, Mayumi Kurata, Tamao Nakamura
Directors: Kazuo Mori   Distributor: Animeigo
DVD release: 15 June 2010   Runtime: 91 minutes (1 disc)
Format: Black and white, DVD, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
DVD Features: Aspect ratio 2.35:1, Audio tracks (Dolby Digital Mono - Japanese), Subtitles (English), Original theatrical trailer, Cultural and historical notes, Cast and crew biographies

THE BLIND MENACE(Shiranui kengy˘)The legendary film series Zatoichi was inspired (according to the keepcase) by this film, THE BLIND MENACE, starring Shintaro Katsu. The case also notes that the film contains violence and despicability, to which I can attest. Where Zatoichi is essentially good, Katsu's Ichi is just looking out for himself... figuratively, of course. Ichi is born blind, but from an early age learns to use this to his advantage as much as he can. Later in life, he will do more than just score his mother some free saki.

It was common years ago for the blind in Asia to become masseurs (to preserve modesty, perhaps?). Ichi goes forth in this vocation as well, but takes every opportunity for personal advancement, even using his acupuncture skills to kill. He is indeed despicable in every way, and after faking his death rises to power. He is bright and nasty.

THE BLIND MENACE (originally called Shiranui kengy˘, or "The Secrets of a Court Masseur") is difficult to watch. The anti-hero provides nothing to root for but the hope that he'll be brought to justice. This is perhaps why the DVD cover suggests that he does.

As is common with Animego's features, the subtitles are helpfully color-coded to differentiate between who is speaking and also provides extra information on some of the terminology and specifics of Japanese culutre. If you enjoyed any of the Zatoichi films, don't expect to enjoy this. While the original Zatoichi (also played by Katsu) plays the lead, the character is not at all the same. Still, THE BLIND MENACE is an interesting outing, providing if not foundation for the beloved Zatoichi, then inspiration.
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reviewed by Eric Renshaw
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