Lady Snowblood (1973)

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Lady Snowblood is the vicious tale of a cycle of vengeance carried out by a young girl named Yuki (Meiko Kaji — who also played the lead in the Female Convict 701:  Scorpion series).  Yuki was born to her mother in a prison and given the sole mission to avenge the circumstances which led to the event.  A group of bandits killed her mothers family, kidnapped, and raped her.  After her mother kills one, she is sent to prison and sleeps with all the guards in order to breed a child for the sole purpose of vengeance.  Born in blood during the middle of a snow storm, Yuki the asura is given her task.  After twenty years of grueling training, Yuki sets out on her mission.

ladysnowblood3Twenty years has brought a lot of changes into the world.  Some of Yuki’s targets have died and others have families.  Her failure to kill some of them mixed with the regret of destroying families show Yuki the consequences of vengeance.  But it doesn’t stop her, because as the film reminds us every five minutes, Yuki is an asura!  A demon of vengeance!

Filmed by Toho Studios, the creators of Godzilla, Lady Snowblood is a classic of Japanese exploitation cinema and would help solidify Kaji’s status as an icon of revenge cinema.  She was a very talented and beautiful lady who also sang the theme songs to both the Lady Snowblood and Female Prisoner Scorpion: 701 series of films.  The two tracks would also be used in the Kill Bill films (in which Lucy Liu’s character of O-Ren Ishii is a homage).

ladysnowblood2My recent viewing of this is the first time I’d seen it in a long while.  I couldn’t remember that much about it except for the theme song, so it was like viewing it for the first time.  I liked it a lot.  The weighty themes of vengeance and it’s repercussions elevate what is basically exploitation into something more artful.  The theatrical aspects of Japense arterial spray are prominent in Lady Snowblood.  The Japanese’s overuse of this in their films has become a staple of their cinema, and it’s a cool visual aspect that manages not to overshadow the story.  It’s a tricky balance they always manage to pull off.

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