Cult Cinema: Lady Snowblood

Michelle Kisner's review of Lady Snowblood is in....Are you man enough to read it?

Japanese cinema has a plethora of excellent samurai films to choose from and Lady Snowblood separates itself from the pack by featuring a strong woman protagonist while still sticking to the traditional formula. This film had a resurgence of popularity after Quentin Tarantino paid homage to many of its scenes in his movie Kill Bill and I was surprised to see how many elements he used from it. The title music from the film, fight scenes, and O-Ren Ishii even wears the exact same outfit as Yuki, the main character in Lady Snowblood.  I like the idea of borrowing ideas from older films as opposed to just giving it a bland remake and Tarantino definitely has that process down pat.

Lady Snowblood is at its heart a revenge film but with the added twist of incorporating samurai-style fights and Japanese political intrigue. Lady Snowblood is the nickname given to Yuki, played by the impeccably gorgeous Meiko Kaji, who is better known for her role in the Female Convict Scorpion films (an excellent series of exploitation flicks and worth checking out). She is as deadly as she is beautiful and it is an interesting dichotomy that is explored in the movie thoroughly. While the movie was made with a small budget, it still looks excellent with interesting use of color and pretty backdrops. The orchestral score is well done and the iconic title song is actually sung by Meiko Kaji herself!

The fight scenes have a lot of style to them. Yuki fights with an umbrella that has a sword hidden in it which makes for some interesting showdowns.  As in most samurai films, blood shoots out like geysers whenever anyone gets stabbed and the body count is very high. The plot isn’t as complex as others in the genre and it is not filmed in chronological order which can be hard to follow at times. There is also a fairly graphic rape scene which is par for the course in these films. As an aside, I’m not sure why samurai movies always have rape scenes in them but it is one of the common tropes. In this movie it does add to the character motivation and is not done for titillation so I see why the director put it in there. 

I would say that Lady Snowblood is required viewing for anyone who likes cult Japanese films, samurai flicks or revenge fests. For the casual viewer it might be too violent and intense but if you know what to expect then it is a treat.

-Review by Michelle Kisner