01st Apr2014

‘Blind Woman’s Curse’ Blu-ray Review (Arrow Video)

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: Meiko Kaji, Hoki Tokuda, Makoto Satô, Hideo Sunazuka, Shirô Ôtsuji, Tôru Abe, Yoshi Katô, Yôko Takagi, Tatsumi Hijikata, Shirô Yanase | Written by Teruo Ishii, Chûsei Sone | Directed by Teruo Ishii


When you start to watch a film called Blind Woman’s Curse starring Meiko Kaji you would expect a tale of revenge, probably featuring samurai swords and plenty of action.  I think in Arrow Video’s latest release it is fair to say that you do get action, but in a very surreal way.  Often hard to keep up with Teruo Ishii’s visually stunning movie is a ride into a vulgar world of the weird and very strange.

Meiki Kaji stars as Akemi Tachibana the leader of a Yakuza Gang.  At the start of the movie we see her and her men fighting for vengeance against their opponents.  Fighting the leader, Akemi lunges her sword only to miss and injure the man’s daughter, blinding her.  As a black cat laps at the injured woman’s eyes Akemi becomes haunted by the car with a taste for blood.  Years later the gangs are still at war, and with corruption damaging Akemi’s clan a new opponent appears against her, a woman with a thirst for vengeance against the woman who blinded her.

If you can keep up with the two sides of the Yakuza war then the story makes sense to a degree.  Blind Woman’s Curse is a tale of honour, something that many of the characters lack.  There is a darkness to the story but this is in contrast to the bright colours that are often used.  One of the most impressive of these is the dragon tattoo that is used to show the members of Akemi’s clan.  Each member has a part of the dragon on their back, with members of the gang joining together to complete the dragon, this being a defensive stance is the move to get ready for the coming battle.  The visual nature of the dragon tattoo is the first things that catches your interest in the movie, but doesn’t prepare you for the weirdness to come.

Where things start to get offbeat is the re-appearance of blind woman, with her companions a hunchback and the black cat who we are made to assume is the same cat that fed off her blood and has haunted Akemi.  The hunchback has to be one of the strangest characters of the movie and is played by Tatsumi Hijikata,who also starred in Ishii’s Horrors of a Deformed Man.  The hunchback’s motives are often questionable, with what seems to be an almost obsessive relationship with the woman who often lacks the same affinity for him, even pushing him away because of his actions that he has taken to try to appease her.  It is questionable just why the hunchback is needed in the film, his purpose only seems to be used to add a surreal aspect to the film, and the blind woman herself shows that she can take care of her own need for vengeance, and any attacks made upon her.

In true Arrow Video style the special features work to help the audience to understand what they are actually seeing.  This includes a very good commentary from Japanese cinema expert Jasper Sharp who makes some sense into the insanity on-screen.  With a very good high-definition transfer that has been worked on by Nikkatsu Studios and newly translated English subtitles do make this feel like the definitive release for what is one of Teruo Ishii’s strangest movies.

For fans of Yakuza movies Blind Woman’s Curse is an odd movie but one that really does have to be seen.  Often dark and disturbing the most memorable of scenes comes at the end, where the true nature of the film and the theme of revenge is examined in a unique way.  For some the ending may not be what people come to expect from this type of movie, but it is one that will keep you thinking about even after repeated viewings.

Blind Woman’s Curse is available on Dual Format DVD and Blu-ray release now from Arrow Video.

**** 4/5

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek

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