Lady Snowblood: Blizzard from the Netherworld
One of the most bloodthirsty samurai films in existence. Though not a samurai herself, the main character fits into that genre very easily. Full of fast moving action and a plot full of blood-boiling vengeance, this film is a must see that can be placed alongside productions such as The Seven Samurai (though few things can surpass it).
It follows the story of Kashima Yuki in Meiji era Japan (Yuki means snow in Japanese). Her father, a schoolteacher, is killed when mistakenly identified as a "man in white",a government agent who forced young men to enlist in the army. Her mother is imprisoned after killing one of the criminals, and Yuki is born in the jail, her mother dying not long after birth. Her mother's dying wish is that she be trained to avenge her family's tragedy. One of her fellow inmates, who also acted as the midwife, is let out not long afterwards. She takes Yuki to a monk, who instructs her. Needless to say, she is trained to be a highly proficient and heartless assassin.
Kaji Meiko gives an awesome performance as Yuki, killing enemies left, right and centre using her skills in the martial arts and demonstrating her finesse with a variety of weapons. The death scenes are a little over-the-top, as in such films as Shogun's Samurai and New Dragon Gate Inn with too much blood spurting. However this film is sure to please if you're into this kind of thing. Directed by Fujita Toshiya.
One of the things I enjoyed the most was Kaji Meiko's acting. She plays the role of a "child of the netherworlds", as the priest names her, very well. Her face betrays no hint of emotion, even if she is wounded. Not until the very end of the film, does she utter as much as a whimper. Her face is an expressionless mask that strikes terror into her foes. Also she looks as if she knows how to hold a sword properly, unlike certain modern female actresses.
The soundtrack for Lady Snowblood is excellent. Here are the lyrics for the main theme, "The Flower of Carnage". It was sung by Kaji Meiko herself.
Yuki ga furu
Hagure inu no
Iin na naomosa
Yami wo dakishimeru
Ja nomeno kasa hitotsu
Inochi no michi wo
Namida wa tooni
Itteta tsuru wa
Ame to kaze
Kieta mizu mo ni
Hotsure ga miutsushi
Namida sae misenai
Ja nomeno kasa hitotsu
Urami no michi wo
Kokoro wa tooni
Giri mo nasake mo
Namida mo yume no
Kinou mo ashita mo
Henno nai kotoba
Urami no kawa ni
Mi wo yudanete
Honma wa tooni
Begrieving snow falls in the dead morning
Stray dog's howls and the footsteps of geta pierce the air
I walk with the weight of the Milky Way on my shoulders
But an umbrella that holds onto the darkness is all there is.
I'm a woman who walks at the brink of life and death
Who's emptied my tears many moons ago.
All the compassion tears and dreams
The snowy nights and tomorrow hold no meaning
I've immersed my body in the river of vengeance
And thrown away my womanhood many moons ago
On the behalf of heaven, they're our soldiers, the loyal,invincible and brave.
Now it's time for them to leave the country of their
Parents their hearts buoyed by encouraging voices.
They are solemnly resolved not to return alive, without victory.
Here at home, the citizens wait for you.
In foreign lands, the brave troops
Instead of kindness from someone
I do not care about
I rather prefer selfishness from you my beloved.
Oh, it the world a dream or an illusion?
I am all alone in jail.
Having originally stated this sometimes goes out of print, I should inform you that this is now readily available on DVD through such companies and amazon and play.com