Lady Snowblood/Review 2
From The Grindhouse Cinema Database
If you look up the word carnage, you will find a picture of Yuki Kashima, aka Lady Snowblood. Yuki Kashima (played by the beguiling Meiko Kaji) is one of the first female warriors to ever grace the big screen. This classic is based on the manga with the same name (1972-1973). It was written by Kazuo Koike and illustrated by Kazuo Kamimura and later turned into a film. Toshiya Fujita’s Lady Snowblood is an instant classic that tells the tale of woman, raised as an assassin, on a mission of retribution upon the individuals responsible for the death of her loved ones. This film covers themes such as resentment, violence, rape, murder, and vengeance.
This story take place during the Meiji era (1868-1912). The Kashima’s are victims of violence. The distraught mother, Sayo, is kidnapped, raped, and brutalized by criminals. Her husband, Tora, and her son, Shiro, are both murdered. Sayo manages to kill her captor and end up is prison. The need for revenge is the only thing keeping her alive. In prison, she is impregnated by a prison guard. With the help of the inmates, Sayo gives birth to a baby girl in prison, who she names Yuki, and ends up dying. Yuki was bred in hatred and born to kill.
Overtime, Yuki grows and trains under a priest by the name of Dokai. Yuki slowly continues on the path to hunt down the remaining criminals responsible. Yuki grows into a deadly assassin using her sex appeal as a weapon. She kills a small gang of men and their leader on a bridge with her a katana sheathed within an umbrella. This was done for in exchange for information. Yuki goes to a poor deplorable village in search of a man named Matsuemon, who she did the job for. He gives her information regarding the whereabouts of the remaining criminals.
She finds one of the men, Banzo, who has turned into a broke alcoholic relying on his prostitute daughter to support him. Yuki finds him, leads him to a sequestered spot on a beach. She reveals her identity and brutally murders him. Afterwards, Yuki finds out that Gishiro, another criminal she is after, has passed away.
She finds Gishiro’s tombstone and realizes she was followed by a journalist named Ashio. Ashio had learned all about Yuki from her teacher, Dokai. Her story was published as a part of Dokai’s plan to draw out the last criminal, Okono. This plan proved to be successful. Okono tries to find Yuki to kill her, but to no avail. Yuki mercilessly kills Okono and the Okono gang.
Once Yuki’s motives were known, Gishiro faked his death. it is revealed that Gishiro is the father of Ashio. Yuki finds Gishiro at a ball, but ends up killing a decoy disguised as Gishiro. The hunt continues. Yuki and Ashio find him. A struggle ensues and Yuki stabs through Ashio to kill Gishiro. Yuki gets her revenge, but is severely wounded in the process.
This film synthesizes both visual beauty and graphic violence that will leave manga lovers and cinephiles satisfied. Considering the times, it is one of the few films that portrayed a female character taking names and kicking ass. Yuki is a complicated character that has never felt the love of a family. All she knows, all she was built for, was death. She is the grim reaper. Lady Snowblood was a huge inspiration to Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill character, Black Mamba. This film is a classic and an important piece of Asian cinema.
Reviewed by Geries Tadros