Lady Snowblood was a very good action flick about a female assassin born to avenge the injustices perpetrated upon her family. While there were a lot of very violent scenes, the film also had a compelling story and a wonderful look to it. The movie was successful enough to spawn a sequel, Lady Snowblood 2: Love Song of Vengeance.
Taking off a little after the original film ended, Yuki (Meiko Kaji,) also known as the killer Lady Snowblood, is visiting her family's grave site when she is set on by swordsman before the credits even start. Handily defeating the dozen or so attackers, she continues along her way until the police set upon her. She is being hunted for all the murders she committed in the first film, and the police are determined to capture her. Avoiding this trap too, she steals a horse and rides to safety, at least for a little while. A short time later while walking along the beach, the police attack again. Yuki is tired of running and fighting, so she throws down her sword and is arrested.
She is brought to trial where she is convicted of 35 counts of murder and sentenced to death. Ironically Yuki is held in the prison she was born in while awaiting her sentence to be carried out. She doesn't have to wait long though and is transported to the gallows in a wagon. Her wagon is attacked, and she is rescued by a secret society that wants to use her skills with a sword for their own ends. She is assigned the task of following an anarchist and finding a confidential document that he has. After obtaining the document she is to kill him.
She goes to work for the man as a maid, but finds out that his cause and that she is actually working for a corrupt the corrupt secret police. Lady Snowblood switches sides, and once again finds the might of the government against her.
This movie didn't work as will as the first film. The main problem that the writers had is what to do with Yuki now that the revenge she has trained her while life for has been achieved. They made a good attempt giving her a purpose by having her fight a corrupt government agency, but it just didn't have the impact as the revenge motif of the first movie.
Meiko Kaji didn't seem to get into this movie either. She seemed to sleepwalk through it. In the first film her quiet contemplative moods served to underline the depth of her desire for revenge, but in this movie it just made her appear bored. The film also has a slower pace. After an inital action packed beginning, the show slows down a lot, a bit too much.
This isn't to say that this film was bad.
It isn't, merely average. The interesting acting and engrossing plot
of the first film are not recaptured in this sequel, but it is still worth
watching. There are some good fight scenes, especially in the beginning
when Yuki is walking down a path and nervous police agents are attacking
her. She dispatches them with a boredom born of extreme competence,
a good set-up for the film. Too bad it doesn't continue in that vein.
Overall an adequate movie, but like most sequels, it doesn't live up to the high standards set by the previous film.
There is a two channel audio track with optional English subtitles. One thing that Animeigo does that I wish more DVD publishers would do is have multicolored subtitles. When more than one person is speaking, each one's dialog has a different color, so it is easy to tell who is saying which lines.
The audio quality is good. The dialog is clear and there is no hiss or distortion present in the soundtrack. The movie does not have a lot of dynamic audio effects, so your system won't get a work out, but the soundtrack fits the movie well.
The widescreen anamorphically enhanced is excellent. The first thing that you notice about the transfer are the bright and vivid colors. The green grass, the white kimonos, and the deep blue ocean all are brilliantly colored. The skin tones are accurate, and there is very good definition. Digital artifacts are practically nonexistent. This is a gorgeous looking transfer.
This DVD features 24 pages of program notes (which were not reproduced on index card-like inserts like the note for the first DVD were) that explain the historical setting and relates some Japanese history. The notes are very interesting and helpful, especially if you have little knowledge of the Meiji reformation and Russo-Japanese war.
There are also trailers for other movies in Animeigo's Samurai Cinema line of DVDs.
Sequels are rarely as good as the movies that spawn them, and this one is no exception to the rule. While it is an adequate film, it doesn't have the power and drive that made the first movie so thrilling. While the movie is a little slow in some parts, fans of the genre will still want to pick this up, as it has some very interesting moments and Animeigo did a wonderful job on the transfer. Recommended.