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Shurayukihime: Urami Renga

Lady Snowblood - Love Song of Vengeance

Japan 1974
produced by
Kikumaru Okuda for Toho
directed by Toshiya Fujita
starring Meiko Kaji, Yoshio Harada, Kazuko Yoshiyuki, Shin Kishida, Juzo Itami
screenplay by Kiyohide Ohara, Norio Osada, based on the manga by Kazuo Koike (writer), Kazuo Kamimura (artist), music by Kenjiro Hirose

Lady Snowblood

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Japan 1905: Despite the fact that Yuki (Meiko Kaji) died at the end of previous year's Shurayukihime/Lady Snowblood - Blizzard from the Netherworld, here she is back & on the run from the police, who capture her eventually though, but only when attacking her, a superior swordswoman,  with a regular army. Yuki is then tried & convicted to death by hanging, the coach that drives her to her execution though is held up & Yuki suddenly finds herself at the mercy of police chief Kikui (Shin Kishida), who offers her a job as a gouvernment agent & assassin in exchange for her life ... to which she agrees.

Her first assignment is to steal an incriminating letter that could topple the gouvernment from renowned anarchist Ransui Tokunaga (Juzo Itama), & to this end she takes up a job as maid to Ransui & his wife Aya (Kazuko Yoshiyuki). Soon however, she becomes more & more infatuated by the man & postpones the fulfillment of her task more & more. Ransui in the meantime has found out Yuki's real identity & her assignment, however he decides to trust her & even hands her over the letter on his own free will ... & not a moment too soon, as police chief Kikui has grown restless & decided to have his men attack Ransui to get the letter by brute force - & Ransai they do get, but Yuki can eswcape with the letter to Ransai's estranged brother Shusuke (Yoshio Harada), who lives as a doctor in the slums.

Kikui has Ransai tortured in the meantime to learn Yuki's (& the letter's) whereabouts, but Ransai refuses to tell, so he is infected with tzhe plague & thrown into the river ... & sure enough, Yuki finds him floating in the water & brings him to his brother - who can only attest that Ransai is terminally ill & lock him away in hopes that the plague won't spread ... but in the slums, diseases like this are quick to spread & soon every other inhabitant is ill.

Yuki, horrified by all this, decides that she has to take measures & she now offers the letter to Kikui in exchange for the money needed to treat (& heal) all the infected. At first, Kikui pretends to accept the terms, but his real plans are far more sinister as - to stop the disease from further spreading - he decides to simply burn down the slums, & have some of his henchmen assassinate Yuki, his erstwhile assassin. Of course though, Yuki can escape, & comeing back to the burnt down slum she can even find Shusuke - apparently the sole survivor of the fire - who has even saved the letter from being burned.

Together the 2 now go & take revenge on Kikui & his henchmen, & so determined are they that not only the bullets from Kikui's gun can stop them. It is nly after they have killed Kikui that Shusuke is bought down by his many wounds & begs Yuki to kill him to end his pain ... which she does.

 

Why anyone would have thought it was a good idea to make a sequel to Shurayukihime/Lady Snowblood - Blizzard from the Netherworld is at anybody's guess since that movie told a whole story full circle - beginning with the heroine's birth, following her through to the fulfillment of her life's task & consequently ending with her death. So in that respect the film makes little sense, since Yuki wouldn't have no reason to run from the police now her past is fulfilled ...

& this is also the point of critique when watching Lady Snowblood: Love Song of Vengeance on its own, the central character seriously lacks motivation, thus her changes of attitude - from the murderous criminal hunted by the police to the gouvernment assassin to the suppotrter of anarchist ideas to the sympathetic slum-inhabitant - come about a little too seamlessly to be believable at all, & it is not helped by the fact that attention is repeatedly shifted from her to utterly unimportant subplots (e.g. why the brothers are estranged, Ransui's odd relationship to huis wife, ...) which only lead the story astray & seriously undermine the effect of the climax.

Unfortunately too, despite a few inspired moments, the direction & action of this movie cannot live up to its predecessor.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Tales to Chill
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Tales to Chill
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a collection of short stories and mini-plays
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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
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Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD