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Friday, February 25, 2011

Lady Snowblood: Love Song of Vengeance (1974) Action

Lady Snowblood:Love Song of Vengeance (1974) - The second in the Snowblood series and another lesson in Japanese history in the film extras. Continuing the story after the original Lady Snowblood film, Yuki (Meiko Kaji) is relentlessly pursued by authorities for the crimes she had committed earlier. A promising start as we open with her visiting the grave of her parents and Master at the now relic of a temple. She is attacked in a very cool walking and fighting sequence as she leaves the area. She is wounded but manages to flee her pursuit led by Inspector Maruyama (Rin'ichi Yamamoto). Collapsing on the beach she is found and cared for by a local fisherman and her wounds heal. At this point the film is very promising with the action of the first some nice editing and a good pace. Then the opening credits and everything changes.
Yuki is eventually captured and the film slows to a crawl with her trial and imprisonment. She is offer a chance to be free again by the secret police. It seems there has been a bit of anarchist activity and they would like to see it end by using her as an assassin. She is sent pretending to be a maid to the home of the Tokunagas, Ransui (Juzo Itami) is a opposition leader and his wife Aya (Kazuko Yoshiyuki). They are a happy couple who do not seem particularly harmful. Yuki is to spy and when she has evidence of their plotting rebellion she will strike. Unfortunately for us director Toshiya Fujita and the many writers let the story stagnate. As if more interested in having the history lesson of the times, than the plot of the story the film slows to a crawl. Worst there are no fights or any action at all just much dialog that eventual convinces Yuki she can not go through with the assassination.
On top of this the story itself become complicated and only clears up when tragedy become the focus, with Ransui being captured and left for dead with the black plague. His wife in grief getting herself killed confronting the secret police, the brother (Yoshio Harada)( I may have the actors mixed up here) storyline where he does not like Ransui because of personal history but the allows himself to also catch the plague in caring for his stricken brother. The slum he lives in is burned down by the secret police and just about every major character dies. Only in the last ten minutes do we get any more of the good action we got in the original Lady Snowblood. Great if you want a historical drama about Japan in the early 1900s but awful if looking for an action packed Samurai movie.
This second film was just really disappointing after the passable first outing. It happens in what should be somewhere around 1904 but the first film supposedly took place in about 1891 and Yuki has not change a bit, besides that the emotion she showed while seeking vengeance in the first film is completely empty here, and is not at all supported by the plot, there is no vengeance. They seem to have made the film on the same sets as the first and I bet if you played the films side by side you would see that. So I guess they were going for the quick score with another film a year after the first so be it.
Rating (3.5) 5.0 and up are recommended, in the Zombiegrrlz system Skip It!

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