Shingo to play the last Zatoichi

SMAP’s Shingo Katori is the next actor in line to take on the role of the legendary blind swordsman Zatoichi. He will star in Junji Sakamoto’s “Zatoichi The Last,” which Toho says will be the final Zatoichi film.

The story of Zatoichi originally was a series of 26 films between 1962 and 1989, starring the late actor Shintaro Katsu. It was also adapted as a television series and has spawned multiple remakes or adaptations, including Takeshi Kitano’s 2003 revival and the female-led “ICHI” that starred Haruka Ayase last year.

Sakamoto’s version began shooting in Yamagata on Sunday. The film is expected to open next year, and Toho is aiming to have it screened at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival. The picture will likely see international distribution, as one French movie company has reportedly invested money in the project.

Sankei Sports

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