“Lady Snowblood” ( 修羅雪姫, “Shurayuki-hime”) is a 1973 Japanese film directed by Toshiya Fujita and starring Meiko Kaji. Supposedly the movie was based on a manga, but I have not been able to find any which predates the film, so I have not read it. The movie is a good old-fashioned slice-and-dice “revenge” story of a beautiful but deadly young woman named Yuki Kashima. “Yuki” meaning “snow” of course.
The young swordslady seeks her vengeance upon four people who raped her mother and killed her mother’s husband and son. Um, she is actually born in prison, and er … it is complicated. It raises some interesting plot, and biological sequences. However, it is a lot of fun, but it is not a happy movie and does not have a “Hollywood” ending. It holds up well and stands the test of time. In fact I would say that it is a lot “edgier” than the bulk of what comes from Hollywood. This is the original trailer:
Now I do not want to spoil the ending, because it is well worth watching. However, how there could be a sequel – and how the character could be continued — defies logic. Never let logic spoil the fun I guess. Here is the trailer for the sequel.
This is the great theme song “Shura No Hana”, sung by the Lady Snowblood actress herself. Great song, and great kimonos are seen here.
Sounds pretty “Enka” doesn’t it? In fact, this is on her great Zenkyoko Shu album. Go ahead and listen to it on YouTube for free, minimize it, and you will feel like you are in a Japanese cinematic classic. The song was used by Quetin Tarantino’s movie “Kill Bill, Vol. 1.” Apparently Tarantino was a big fan of Lady Snowblood. If you have seen “Kill Bill” you might remember the sword fight in the snowy landscape between Uma Thurmon and Lucy Liu. Tarantino rips off … (cough) … I mean … pays homage to the original movie. The American director also included LS sub-plots, character names, visual motifs directly into his “Kill Bill” series.
I watched the original film from a Neflix disc which was an Animeigo repackaging. I love all the old samurai movies which were re-translated and re-issued on DVD.
Animeigo adds in many cultural annotations, color-coded subtitles, and provide special features which are pure candy for fans like myself.
Starlight: I need to get a copy of the original pre-1973 manga.
See more of Meiko Kaji on my Pinterest board linked here.