30th Sep2012

‘Lady Snowblood’ Steelbook Review (Arrow Video)

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: Meiko Kaji, Toshio Kurosawa, Masaaki Daimon, Miyoko Akaza, Shinichi Uchida, Takeo Chii, Noboru Nakaya | Written by Norio Osada | Directed by Toshiya Fujita


There is a certain style to vengeance films and it’s arguable that Hollywood is losing the ability to make a truly good one.  Kill Bill of course is a good example of a good vengeance story, but the truth is it’s more of homage to films that Tarantino is inspired by, and a damn good one.  Lady Snowblood is the obvious inspiration for Kill Bill and of course Tarantino would never hide this, it’s his type of movie and quite honestly, what a movie it is.

Lady Snowblood also known as Yuki Kashima is described as a child of the netherworld, she was born for vengeance then educated in the ways to enact it.  Her life has had one aim, even the way she was conceived.  Her mother dies with the one last wish that her soul crosses to the child to add fire to the vengeance she must feel, in a way she’s like a human Terminator but without the whole time travel thing.  Yuki’s whole goal in life is to get revenge for the death of her family by any means necessary.

Meiko Kaji put in an almost legendary performance as Lady Snowblood, mixing beauty with cold blooded viciousness she plays the character just as would be expected for a cold blooded killer.  There is no space for caring in her life, no love story, just her set goal and very like in Kill Bill that goal is a list of people to kill.  It’s actually interesting to watch to see where Tarantino got his inspiration from.  It’s not just a case of ripping off the movie but taking what was done so good and paying homage to it.  The start of the film for example starts off with a battle in the snow that is reminded me of the final fight in Kill Bill straight away, when Yuki is born the snow is falling, snow is very much an important element in the film even to the extent of being in the lyrics of the theme song (also used in Kill Bill).  I will admit that I like Kill Bill a lot, which is probably why I’m constantly referencing it but the fact is as somebody who watched this for the first time, after watching Tarantino’s movie it almost adds an extra dimension to the enjoyment.

After Lady Snowblood finished I then moved onto Lady Snowblood 2: Love Song of Vengeance which is also included on the Blu-ray.  I will say that before it started I was against the movie; I felt that there should be no continuation to the tale if she finally had her vengeance, that should be her life and that would be the end.  I’m very glad to say I was wrong in that belief.  What Lady Snowblood 2 actually does is create a new scenario for Yuki to feel the need for vengeance, as after the events of the first film she has no real aim in her life anymore.  Through the corruptive forces of the government of Japan she is pushed into the world of “anarchists” to try to retrieve information that would be very damaging to them.  She soon finds herself siding against the government and this is of course when they fight back, leading to events that push Yuki back into the fighting spirit.  I was actually surprised at how good the second film was, not as good as the first of course but it managed to be a nice continuation of the story of the child of the netherworld.

For fans of Kill Bill Lady Snowblood is a film that they really must see.  It shows just where inspiration for Tarantino’s film comes from and in ways makes you respect his work even more.  To see his inspirations shows not only the quality of them but the fact that these films are just as good as Kill Bill and should be seen.  Of course I’m sure many Kill Bill fans already have seen this and it’s quite a moot point, but for those few of us that need introducing to the world of Lady Snowblood and the actress Meiko Kaji, Arrow Films have brought out an excellent Blu-ray giving us the version we deserve to see.  With excellent picture quality, vivid colours (especially when it comes to the blood gushing out of victims arteries) and featuring newly translated subtitles you are in for a treat.

Lady Snowblood 1 & 2 is out now on Blu-ray and Blu-ray Steelbook courtesy of Arrow Video.


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