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Doogan's Views at The Digital Bits!
page added: 2/14/03



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Daredevil vs. Spider-Man

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Daredevil vs. Spider-Man
2003 - Marvel (Buena Vista)

Spider-Man is forever destined to be a cartoon series, and he had his best incarnation in the 90s with the Fox series merging traditional and computer animation. There were big, operatic stories based on comic continuity with good acting and serviceable animation. Buena Vista's been issuing compilation discs of some of these adventures and now with Daredevil coming out today, we get the two adventures starring horn head and two with Kingpin going solo. The best thing about this set is the interviews and introductions with co-creator Stan Lee and the Marvel Power Hour bonus episode starring the Fantastic Four and DD. This is a worthwhile disc for fans, but it's too bad Marvel doesn't release these series in total. I'm sure once the comps are out we'll get everything, but it would be nice to have some order to it.

Doogan Says: Spider-Man on DVD is always a good thing. B-




Zatoichi 1: The Tale of Zatoichi

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Zatoichi 1: The Tale of Zatoichi
1962 (2002) - Daiei Pictures (Home Vision)

Ichi is one of the best samurai out there. He utterly rocks. Blind, ragged, a poor yakuza gambler travelling from village to village handing out massages, taking money from poor dupes and kicking much ass with unique but deadly sword drawing ability. Shintaro Katsu is a great actor and creates a brilliant screen hero in Ichi.

This first adventure finds Ichi in the middle of a historically true turf war, played against each side and wanting nothing to do with it. But when an honorable ronin comes into the war, he finds himself drawn in more out of honor than anything else. Will Ichi live to rub another shoulder, or has he met his match? Considering there are 26 films in this series and a long running television series, I'm guessing he lives. Hopefully that won't ruin the experience for you.

Home Vision, sister of Criterion, is doing these films proud. This film looks great; there are some print issues here and there, but so what. The sound is also good. Extras are light with nothing but a stills gallery and a sheet of collector's cards, but just having this great film on DVD is a gift.

Doogan Says: Zatoichi rocks. Rock with him. B+




Zatoichi 2: The Tale of Zatoichi Continues

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Zatoichi 2: The Tale of Zatoichi Continues
1962 (2002) - Daiei Pictures (Home Vision)

A direct sequel to the first film, The Tale Continues picks up a short time later and Ichi is still at odds with the families from the first film. Not only that but a mysterious one-armed man from his past shows up and the only way out is an all-out duel to end all duels. Samurai fans should take note, the one-armed samurai is played by Tomisaburo Wakayama, brother of Katsu and star of his own series Lone Wolf and Cub -- long overdue on DVD if you ask me.

Extras are light, but the DVD is beautiful. Extras are exactly the same format as the first disc: stills and cards.

Doogan Says: Can't watch the first without following up with the second. B+




Zatoichi 3: New Tale of Zatoichi

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Zatoichi 3: New Tale of Zatoichi
1963 (2002) - Daiei Pictures (Home Vision)

Ichi finds love in his first color adventure. Coming home, Ichi finds things have changed a little bit. His old teacher is not the nicest guy in the world and his teacher's sister is betrothed to a man she doesn't want to marry - so she asks Ichi to do her the honor. Of course, being a blind man makes Ichi a pariah and this can't be allowed. This is another kick ass Ichi film on DVD. It's a kick seeing Ichi in color, and director Tokuza Tanaka's use of the widescreen format is genius. I know I'm not getting too into these films, but it's on purpose, the less you know about these wonderful films going in the more fun you have exploring their worlds. Just know every one of the Zatoichi films are worth your time and you can't go wrong.

Doogan Says: Seriously, you can't go wrong. B+




Zatoichi 4: The Fugitive

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Zatoichi 4: The Fugitive
1963 (2002) - Daiei Pictures (Home Vision)

This is one of the weaker Ichi films - but still a good one. Entering the township of Shimonita, Ichi learns that he's a wanted man. He also learns that the woman he loved and lost as a youth has taken up with a ruthless ronin who has sworn to take Ichi's head for a reward. When things spiral out of even Ichi's control, he lets his sword do the talking and it seems no one from the village will walk away without being cut by his blade.

It's a bit slower than the first three films, but definitely worth the time checking it out.

Doogan Says: Not as strong going as the first three, but worth the time. B-




Zatoichi 5: On the Road

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Zatoichi 5: On the Road
1963 (2002) - Daiei Pictures (Home Vision)

Ichi, sworn to protect the life of a young girl, once again finds himself in the middle of a turf war. But this time he plays ball and turns in one of the greatest climax battles since Seven Samurai. My favorite of the first five films, On the Road starts off red hot and just keep getting hotter. You can't miss this one.

I think this is the last in the series that will feature collector cards, and I also believe this will be the last one that won't feature a trailer as an extra. Starting with the next set of discs, Home Vision will include mini-posters and trailers as extras. Which is quite cool and I can't wait to get them.

Doogan Says: Run, don't walk, to catch this Ichi adventure. A




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