Directed by Toshiya Fujita
Produced by Kikumaru Okuda
Written by Norio Osada
Based On A Story by Kazuo Kato and Kazuo Kamikura
Cast: Meiko Kaji, Toshio Kurosawa, Masaaki Daimon and Miyoko Akaza
A young woman is raised from birth to complete her dead mother’s intense desire for revenge.
”Revenge is a dish best served cold”. oh boy, Lady Snowblood takes this advice and runs with it. This film echoes the whole theme of revenge in a very stylistic and thematic way. Lady Snowblood herself is a creation of revenge that’s from the bowels of hell no less! Apparently, her commitment to enacting her mother’s revenge sheds her humanity. A commitment born the moment she was born. For Lady Snowblood(or Yuki Kashima ) there was no life for her before Yuki became an instrument for mother’s revenge. In essence, Yuki is more of a weapon than an actual character. That may sound ham-fisted, Meiko Kaji’s performance exemplifies this ideal well. Meiko Kaji, needless to say, is a beautiful woman, her haunting cold expression is so mesmerizing to look at. Meiko’s performance really carries the film. While Yuki may not run a huge gambit of emotions, the film reveals much about her character. If she is an embodiment of revenge than the film’s attempt to give backstory to the central revenge story of the film fleshes out her character. The introspective look at the revenge at guiding Lady Snowblood lifts this film from simple montages of ”bloodletting” to something more profound. Political intrigue aside, it makes the villains a truly mischievous bunch that truly deserve to have their lives cut short. The villains’ motivations are remarkably simple, but it’s more about the act of injustice they have committed. And Lady Snowblood becoming Lady Justice by hunting them all down. Some of them are clever than appear at first and aren’t all cannon fodder for Yuki’s fury.
Action in Lady Snowblood may be more ”rigid”than what you typically want. But, I expect it’s hard to move too fluidly when you’re wearing a tight kimono. For its lack of fluidity, it makes for it by showing geysers of blood and Yuki’s ”no-holds-barred” persona makes the fight more intense. Rigid the choreography may be compared to present day’s standards, but it allows each strike from Yuki to be deadly.
Something must be said of this film’s visuals. The intensity of the colors is quite striking in some shots. The tone of the blood in the film is a lighter variant making the blood stand out more. At times, the movie almost feels like a series of paintings since it’s so picturesque. Perhaps, my favorite detail about the cinematography that it combined sound stages and the natural environment so organically.
Lady Snowblood is a tale of revenge that is both visually and emotionally stimulating.
PS: This is based on a manga. And it was one of Quentin Tarantino’s inspiration for the Kill Bill films.