Zatôichi, which we screened on Wednesday, is great fun and carried off with tremendous panache. Virtuoso swordplay, slapstick comedy, cross-dressing, manic tap-dancing and intimate mystery are all somehow woven into a compelling homage to the mythical samurai hero, the itinerant blind masseur Zatôichi. The master puppeteer is, of course, Takeshi "Beat" Kitano – director, producer and inimitable star of the whole dazzling picture. Kitano has been an ubiquitous presence in contemporary Japanese culture: stand-up comedian, children's TV entertainer, painter, poet and novelist, and perhaps the most striking filmmaker of the last two decades. He says that he wanted to remake the Zatôichi legend for a younger audience – re-embedding the character in the collective consciousness – and he has succeeded with great verve and wit. And yet Kitano is also aware of his cinematic debt to the masters: there's a wonderful fight scene in the rain that's straight out of Kurosawa's Yojimbo and as Philip French has noted Kitano uses "deep focus and long held shots in the manner of Ozu, and moving his camera with a grace worthy of Mizoguchi". So for all its fast-moving action and its pastiche of cultural references Kitano also know his place in the genealogy of great Japanese filmmaking. It's a wonderful film and you should see it.