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Hulu just got a lot cooler. As part of Criterion’s foray onto the free streaming site, they’re hosting six of the famous Zatoichi movies, free of charge. It’s a pretty fantastic move—and Criterion deserves all the buzz it’s getting—but it’s leading to a very understandable question: Who the hell is Zatoichi?

To keep it short, he’s the ultimate Samurai action hero. He’s blind, he’s quick with a sword, and he tends to leave a line of headless villains in his wake.

The plot of every movie is essentially the same. He shambles into town, befriends a small child and/or animal, gets outed as the famous blind swordsman, and proceeds to topple any local warlords foolish enough to tussle with him, usually with an artful slash across the chest. It’s pulp, but it’s the fun kind of pulp, and it’s one of the high points of the samurai genre.

All of which is to say, you’re in for quite a weekend. Especially if Rza comes over.

See the movies here.

—R.B.

CONTRIBUTORS

  • Russell Brandom