Like many of you, Id never heard the title Lady Snowblood before Kill Bill came out, so when I watched Kill Bill and saw Tarantino mention this film as one of his biggest influences, well I knew I would have to check it out sooner or later. So did Tarantino really rip off this flick or what? You bet your double edged sword he did!
The story is about this couple who get mugged by these four thugs. The husbands gets the ax by the killers and the wife gets raped by all of them many times. When the lady kills one of the killers and slays him she ends up in jail pregnant with a bastard child. When the child is born the mother dies, but not before whispering into the childs ear that her only purpose in life will be to kill those who were responsible for the death of her family. That little girl is raised by a Kung Fu master and ends up being Lady Snowblood. A creature living only to avenge those who murdered her entire family.
I wont say Tarantino isn't a genius on his own right the guy is one of my favorites, but when he gets inspired he sure knows where to get his inspiration from! There's many images lifted right off from this movie. Lets see the most notable of all rip offs is Oren Ishii who is no doubt molded after Lady Snowblood herself. Right down to her underground gangster deals and her ugly past. Right down to wanting to avenge her parents deaths. She chops heads and slices and dices like she means it! Blood sprays out in huge amounts in the same way that it sprays in Kill Bill, as if you just opened a sprinkler system to water your lawn. There's the four or five people that she has to kill which pop up in her mind every time she sees them, exactly the same way as in Kill Bill. And I mean exactly the same way, all four bad guys looking down at the camera as if the camera was on the floor! Lady Snowblood has a list of people she has to kill, I mean the similarities are astounding. But still, it didn't really bother me since I was enjoying this damn movie so much! The story is what really pulls you in. Its a fantastically woven revenge film to the Nth degree! I mean the level of hatred thats transferred onto Lady Snowblood when she is a child and the horrible things that happen to her spawn one of the most hatred filled characters that I have seen in a long time. Just like Beatrix Kiddo, Lady Snowblood (aka Yuki Kashima) stops at no ones plea of mercy. She executes her revenge no matter what circumstances have occurred or changed from the time of her parents death. Basically its a you did it now you pay for it kind of story. But with some wonderful characters and complications along the way.
There were many excellent things about this movie but the most pivotal of all was the flawless direction brought on by Toshiya Fujita. I mean this movie was like ahead of its time or something. Or maybe thats just the way movies were made in the seventies and it raised to such cool levels in a natural way. But this film has all these visual gags and tricks that could have only been spawned from that glorious era known as the 70s. Many scenes show that this director took special care in making this movie special, like those scenes with Lady Snowblood walking in the snow with her dress filled with the blood of her victim.
So even though this movie gets pretty gory and violent, visually Id say its very elegant. The music is also incredibly good, mixing traditional Asian music with this great theme song that Tarantino took from this very movie and placed it in his. The song adds an incredible emotion to the film, specially when you know what it says. Also of special notice is the movies excellent performances! From the whole cast we get nothing but credibility and sincerity in the acting. There's an excellent scene in which Yukis mother is giving birth and dying at the same time and the dialog and performance she gives was really something! If there's something I have to say that I didn't like its that the blood looked too red and too liquid. I mean, I know blood is liquid but not like water. Blood is thick and sticky and on this movie the blood looks a cartoonish red and flows like water which rested a couple of notches of credibility. But thats really nothing, the film is damn near perfect for me. Also don't go in expecting a Kung Fu movie cause this isn't a Kung Fu movie its a revenge movie. Don't get me wrong, there's swordplay involved and lots of violence. Decapitations, bodies split in half, hands cut off. But not necessarily any Kung Fu fights involved. So, lots of gore and slicing and dicing, but no Kung Fu.
In conclusion, a very very kick ass film. This is were Kill Bill was born and Kill Bill was as good as it was because it was already ripping off an truly excellent film. So, yeah, Id say go out of your freaking way to get this movie as soon as you can and enjoy one of the coolest revenge films to come out of Asian cinema. Lady Snowblood will get revenge on you if you don't! (Corny way to end my review, I know) Rating: 5 out of 5