What a beautiful bloody mess. That’s Lady Snowblood and Lady Snowblood: Love Song of Vengenance for you. These two influential movies helped to shape the hyper revenge and ultraviolent Japanese sword fighting movies in recent years as well as influenced Quentin Tarantino. Now they are available in one set from Criterion Collection with a new 2k restoration and ready to impact a new generation as well as make some collectors very happy. This set is all Criterion and really quite pretty.
The movies themselves playout as you might expect. The titular character has a reasonable beef with a group of people who have destroyed her family. That means its cutting time. The same basic plot thread follows through both films displaying both the creation of the formula for elegant but maniacal violence that would make Lady Snowblood a cult film success and influence on modern Japanese revenge films. Just because we have a gory picture here, doesn’t mean it has to be ugly. It’s a work of art and balance that helps this set of films transcend its counterparts and movies that have come before.
The disc itself comes with an elegant poster with essay, traditional Criterion case including updated artwork. The transfer for both movies is beautiful with excellent blacks, beautiful color saturation (just look at the blood… you won’t have to wait long). The extras include new interviews, trailer and a new translation for this edition. That may feel light for a Criterion disc, but this does come with two full length movies that have been restored.
You can order the Complete Lady Snowblood from Criterion now:
A young woman (Meiko Kaji), trained from childhood as an assassin and hell-bent on revenge for the murders of her father and brother and the rape of her mother, hacks and slashes her way to gory satisfaction in turn-of-the-twentieth-century Japan. Rampant with inventive violence and spectacularly choreographed swordplay, Toshiya Fujita’s pair of influential cult classics Lady Snowblood and Lady Snowblood: Love Song of Vengeance are bloody, beautiful extravaganzas composed of one elegant widescreen composition after another. The first Lady Snowblood was a major inspiration for Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill saga, and both of Fujita’s films remain cornerstones of Asian action cinema.
New 2K digital restorations of both films, with uncompressed monaural soundtracks on the Blu-rays
New interviews with Kazuo Koike, the writer of the manga that inspired the films, and screenwriter Norio Osada
New English subtitle translations
PLUS: An essay by critic Howard Hampton