Lady Snowblood (1973)

lady snowblood poster japanese 1973 movie
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 9/10

Ultra-violent revenge Japanese revenge tale

Not as over the top as some of the movies that have emulated it

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Lady Snowblood

Studio:   Tokyo Eiga

Genre(s):   Martial Arts/Action/Adventure

Release Date(s):   December 1, 1973 (Japan)

MPAA Rating:   Not Rated

lady snowblood umbrella attack

Maybe Lady Snowblood is just really shy…

Yuki Kashima (Meiko Kaji) is a woman bent on vengeance.  She was born to a woman named Sayo (Miyoko Akaza) whose son and husband were murdered by Takemura Banzō (Noboru Nakaya), Shokei Tokuichi (Takeo Chii), Kitahama Okono (Sanae Nakahara), and Tsukamoto Gishirō (Eiji Okada).  Though Sayo found revenge on Shokei Tokuichi, she seduced a prison guard to give birth to Yuki…and her chance at revenge!  Yuki is now Lady Snowblood and her mother’s tormentors will pay.

Directed by Toshiya Fujita, Lady Snowblood (修羅雪姫 or Shurayuki-hime) adapts Kazuo Koike and Kazuo Kamimura’s manga published in Weekly Playboy from 1972-1973.  The film became a cult classic and was remastered by the Criterion Collection along with its sequel (Criterion #790).

lady snowblood training priest dokai ko nishimura

There’s got to be a training montage!

Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill helped reintroduce Lady Snowblood to audiences.  The film was a big influence on Tarantino’s movie (especially portions of the film involving Lucy Liu).  The Criterion edition made it more readily available instead of grimy copies and that is a good thing.

The story is pretty classic in the Japanese revenge saga though it is extreme.  The effort to get revenge is extreme and disregards Yuki’s ability to simply be her own person (it isn’t even her father who was killed)…the sins of the parents is a big theme in the story with the children of two of the rapists playing a big role in the story.

Meiko Kaji is forced to carry most of the story.  She does so decently because she does a good job with the rage and hate (and sympathy involving Kobue played by Yoshiko Nakada).  The movie revolves around her and fortunately, she comes off as believable.

lady snowblood beach scene meiko kaji

Lady Snowblood doesn’t know the mean of the word surrender!

The big aspect of the story is the over-the-top visuals.  I love movies like Five Deadly Venoms and Lone Wolf and CubLady Snowblood is in the same wheelhouse and blood.  The fighting is pretty strong (though a little more toned down than the other mentioned movies).  Fans of martial art films will love it.

Lady Snowblood is fun entry in the martial arts movies.  Revenge movies are rather common, but Lady Snowblood is a revenge story done well.  Is Lady Snowblood any better and worth extra recognition?  I don’t know there, but it is stylish and sleek and a fun watch for fans of the genre.  Lady Snowblood was followed by Lady Snowblood:  Love Song of Vengeance in 1974.

Related Links:

Lady Snowblood: Love Song of Vengeance (1974)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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