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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Lady Snowblood (1973) - Action

Lady Snowblood (1973) - The extras explain a bit of history to help understand the time that this story takes place. From the beginning of the 17th century until the late 19th century Japan was ruled by the Tokugawa Shoogunate which attempted to keep it isolated and resisted new ideas or change to tradition. In the late 1860s things changed and the restoration of Emperor Meiji brought with it an influx of western ideas. To modernize the country Meiji create a large conscripted army, but a misinterpretation of the law's wording, that "one protects his country with blood," was thought by peasants to mean that the conscripts were being drained of blood that was then sold to the western world. Rumors circulated about Blood tax men who all dressed in white and came to villages looking for conscripts.
We begin with the birth of Yuki (Meiko Kaji), and her mother says of her, "You were born for vengeance such a poor child, a child of the netherworld." Her story is broken up in the four chapters of the movie. Her family was killed by bandits. Her father a new teacher arrives at the village he was going to teach and is killed by the bandits because he is wearing a white suit. The bandits then swindle the villagers saying they have saved there sons from being conscripted into the army and taking money for the service of killing the blood tax man. They take Yuki's mother and rape and enslave her. One bandit keeps her with him for three days. She gets an opportunity and harms him ending up in prison for her efforts. There without hope she does all she can to become pregnant to create the weapon of vengeance Yuki will be. It is a sad and sorry tale and Yuki feels the need to complete the quest to rid the world of those who killed her family.
Yuki now grown is seen stepping out in front of a rickshaw. The guards for the passenger challenge her. doesn't she know this is Shibayama Genzo the Asakura Senryo Gang leader? He is also the first of the bandits who was responsible for her families deaths. Quickly she dispatches the gaurds and stands to face the leader When his attack fails and he is dying "who are you? he begs. Revenge she replies "All those helpless people that have suffered thanks to you." A good start with some funny blood spurting gore, and then the opening credits.
Lady Snowblood is on a mission of vengeance, for her family who were killed by bandits before she was born. It is a sad tale and we get parts a bit at a time. We see her being trained by a older man rather harshly and thus know she is a well trained fighter.
Then in the current time of the film she is closing in on the second of the bandits who killed her family. He has become a drunk in a small fishing village and has a daughter close to the age of Lady Snowblood. She follows him to the beach after he has a night of gambling and confronts him. Banzo (Noboru Nakaya) is his name. After denying that he was one of the bandits he begs for his life, what will happen to his daughter Kobie (Yoshiko Nakada)? Lady Snowblood slices him saying "an eye for an eye". The daughter of Banzo has no life now that her father is dead. Already a prostitute she has few options and heads to the same town as her fathers assassin.
The third bandit pisses her off because all she finds is his grave. She can't believe that the vengeance she envisioned can not be given. She storms back to town. She is followed by a journalist and comes up with the idea of him writing about her quest in order to draw out the other bandits. When Banzo's daughter reads the story she confronts the journalist and she swears her own vengeance oath.
The fourth bandit is female and has a private police force protecting her. This causes considerable bloodshed when they attempt to stop Lady Snowblood. Although it is a more difficult task you can guess house things go for the police and the bandit woman. When she finally thinks she has her cornered she comes into a room to find the woman has hanged herself. Then she must question the nature of her vengeance. Little does she know that the third bandit has faked his death and returns. We learn a secret about one of the characters and when Lady Snowblood who has been trying to assimilate into life with out vengeance learns all the old pain come boiling back to the forefront. She tracks the man to a ball, it is a very western styled ball and she is easily spotted by the bandit in her traditional Japanese garb. She fights him in a back room but finds when the man is dead it is an impostor wearing a mask. Her and the journalist do find him though and chase him in the mansion. The story comes to an exciting end with Yuki getting her vengeance on the last man.
As she stumbles from the party the final twist is revealed if you have not already guessed it. This is a revenge movie where the whole time the protagonist is questioning her mission. With each kill her anger lessens and when the final deed is done she is spent. Unlike recently reviewed True Grit this film has consequences for the violence the lead executes and she is required to come to terms with her actions.
Rating (5.6) 5.0 and up are recommended

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