BLINDSIDED: THE GAME Pays American Indie Homage to ZATOICHI

Eric Jacobus’ blind swordsman gets the job Done

I am what one might consider a Zatoichi mega-fan. Having seen and written about all 26 feature films starring Shintaro Katsu in his defining role as the wandering blind swordsman, I can say he ranks among my favorite big screen heroes in cinema history.

It’s tough to say, then, whether I am the world’s harshest critic when it comes to Zatoichi homage, or whether I’m more susceptible to the charms of films making reference to the mischievous wanderer. Regardless, I seek out any and all remakes or Americanizations or homages pretty ravenously, and Eric Jacobus’ Blindsided: The Game is no different.

Jacobus has been on my radar for several years after a fellow action cinema aficionado sent me the links to his indie action shorts Rope-a-Dope, and Rope-a-Dope 2. I’m particularly excited to discover independent action filmmakers who are doing solid work and became a quick fan of Jacobus. He’s clearly a skilled martial artist, and works hard to capture the fine art of on screen fighting in his films. Loaded with humor as well, Jacobus is kind of America’s take on Jackie Chan in the sense that he’s unafraid of broad physical comedy in heavy doses within his ass kickery.

Blindsided began life as a short film that I took in and enjoyed some time ago. I wasn’t aware that Jacobus’ production company had secured funding to expand it into more of a feature length film until the opportunity to screen it was presented to me. It was a pleasant surprise indeed, and Blindsided: The Game (as it is now called) is an enjoyable indie action romp.

Calling it a “feature” may be a stretch, however, as the whole project clocks in at around 45 minutes in length. It’s a barebones story that has just enough heart and laughs and killer fight sequences to make that 45 minutes consistently enjoyable and never dull. But I do get concerned that a project of this length will be relegated to the limbo between a short film (which already has a limited audience on the mass market), and a feature (which at least might see a VOD release of some kind). Part of me wishes Jacobus and team had been able to fund and shoot enough to get a short feature of more like 70 minutes in length completed simply to get their work out there to more people.

What did get shot, however, is a strong display of Jacobus’ talents. He plays Walter, a blind man in a modern American city. Underestimated and cast aside by a local gang while shopping at his local super market, he comes to the aid of Gordon, his grocer who’s in over his head in debt. Surprising both Gordon and the gang with his physical abilities, Walter sends the gangsters packing in an alleyway fight scene that puts a modern cane for the blind to good use. That’s where the short film concluded and where the “feature” picks up. Following the gangsters back to the “big boss”, The Game sees Walter and Gordon get further into trouble with the gang until Walter must go head to head with the toughs in their own warehouse. There’s some basic character work here that inserts just enough heart and comedy into proceedings to string together the major action set pieces. And that’s okay, because that’s what we’re here for.

Jacobus is able to display his physical and comedic talents here, and the whole team exhibits their adeptness at capturing strong action on screen. I believe Jacobus even edited the final film as well. Jacobus’ star may indeed be on the rise as he’s doing more feature work behind the scenes and even played Kratos in the latest critically praised God of War video game. So as a calling card, Blindsided: The Game should allow for those involved to use it to proudly display their work. The film is definitely worth seeking out for action cinema devotees or lovers of the blind swordsman sub-genre.

And I’m Out.

Blindsided: The Game will be free to stream on YouTube on May 17th, 2018

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