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Category:    Home > Reviews > Martial Arts Cycle > Lady Snowblood (both DVDs)

Lady Snowblood + Love Song Of Vengeance


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: C     Films: B-/C+



Thanks to Quentin Tarantino’s remarkable Kill Bill, there are many films and types of filmmaking that new interest has been revived in.  One of the most key has been Fujita Toshiro’s Lady Snowblood (1974), the tale of the seemingly passive young lady who is really an exceptionally-skilled killer.  Kaji Meiko is the title character, left an orphan by the brutal killings of her father and sexual slavery of her mother.  With those loved ones violated and desecrated, she has a great reason to go after those responsible.


The original Lady Snowblood is easily the better of the two films, featuring memorable visuals, a good story and some great fighting scenes.  If you think having seen Kill Bill means you can simply skip this film, think again.  This is a fine, one-of-a-kind genre gem that is even subversive for its time, with an atypically strong and dangerous woman in a time that (both in the film and at the time of the film’s release) was still considered a novelty.  She also drags a male journalist into the insanity and becomes a legend.  It is an action genre must-see and a highlight of the early 1970s Martial Arts cycle.


Lady Snowblood – Love Song Of Vengeance is a sad cash-in that offers much less story, much less action, some sequelitis where parts of the original are repeated, a really silly sex scene and a dull muddiness that makes this an unnecessary prequel.  Though the director returns, it is useless, barely good as a curio.


The anamorphically enhanced image on both DVDs is about even, but despite being a new digital High Definition transfer, lacks detail and clarity.  Perhaps the original film elements need some work, but the picture is inconsistent and sometimes unclear, especially on the second film.  On the first film, when the image is at its best, it is terrific.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 is boosted to simple stereo, but the age of the recordings and the distortion and even warping are problems that need addressed down the line, if possible.  As the first DVD case notes, Hirao Masaaki’s Flower Of Carnage (Shura No Hana) is prominent in Kill Bill and is one of several songs in that film that have warping and limitations.


Extras on both include trailers for other AnimEigo Video Samurai Cinema titles and both print and DVD text sections explaining the history and coined terms in the films.  I commend the translators for using extended subtitles to explain everything, even using multiple colors so the viewer can learn all about the world these characters inhabit.  That is the right way to do such titles.  If you are not certain about seeing these, at least check out the first Lady Snowblood, but the second could ruin your enjoyment of the first.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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