Sunday, October 21, 2007

Blind Fury

When I was in college, one of the most popular B-movies to appear in a never-ending loop on Cable was Ruger Hauer's "Blind Fury." It was about a soldier, struck blind in combat, nursed back to health by friendly villagers, and taught to navigate his world by using his other four senses. And, of course, taught to defend himself with a sword concealed in his cane. I never quite understood how or why villagers in an unnamed SouthEast Asian country taught a random white guy samurai sword technique, but this wasn't a movie fixated on making sense. All the guys loved watching it -- while drunk -- late at night with a big bowl of popcorn.

What the guys didn't know was that Blind Fury was based on one of the most successful film franchises in Japanese history: Zatoichi. This series followed a blind masseur and gambler around feudal Japan. He often found himself in trouble, with ronin, samurai, yakuza... So it was a good thing he was a terror with his sword cane.

Zatoichi was recently remade by the modern Japanese film phenom Takeshi Kitano.

I was reminded of this series during a recent class. I was grappling with an opponent and since this was my third (or was it fourth) match of the evening, I was pretty sweaty. My eyes were stinging and I was fighting blind. (This is definitely not recommended.) When it was over, my opponent called me "Zatoichi." Since I assume he must've seen the movie, and how Zatoichi cuts through his crowds of bad guys -- I took it as a compliment.

1 comment:

srb said...

I just saw the original Zatoichi on a cable channel when visiting a relative. I think it was on some all martial arts channel. Unfortunately not one carried by my local cable service.