Lady Snowblood 2: Love Song of Vengeance (Shura-yuki-hime: Urami Renga) (1974)

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Released 8-May-2013

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Theatrical Trailer-Lady Snowblood and Lady Snowblood 2
Trailer-Eastern Eye trailers x 10
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 1974
Running Time 89:01
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Toshiya Fujita
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Meiko Kaji
Toshio Kurosawa
Masaaki Daimon
Miyoko Akaza
Takeo Chii
Noboru Nakaya
Yoshiko Nakada
Akemi Negishi
Kaoru Kusuda
Sanae Nakahara
Hosei Komatsu
Hiroshi Hasegawa
Takehiko Ono
Case Amaray-Opaque-Dual
RPI ? Music Masaaki Hirao


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     It is 1905 in Meiji era Japan, just after the conclusion of the Russo-Japanese War. Assassin Yuki (Kaji Meiko) has been a fugitive after the killings depicted in Lady Snowblood but she is finally caught, tried and sentenced to hang. On the day of her execution, however, she is rescued by Japanese government secret service agent Seishiro Kikui (Kishida Shin), who offers Yuki her freedom if she will infiltrate the home of anarchist activist Ransui Tokunaga (Itami Juzo) and retrieve a confidential document in his possession which has the potential to bring down the government.

     Yuki joins Ransui’s household as a maid, but she quickly starts to admire Ransui due to his concern for the poor and underprivileged. And when Yuki discovers that the document in fact implicates Kikui and a government minister in wrongdoing, she changes sides. Ransui entrusts the document to Yuki and when he is arrested and tortured by the police Yuki flees into the slums of Tokyo to the medical clinic run by Ransui’s estranged brother Dr Shusuke Tokunaga (Harada Yoshio). But Shusuke has an agenda all his own, and the stage is set for an all-out conflict between the police and the slum dwellers.

     Lady Snowblood: Love Song of Vengeance (Shurayukihime: Urami Renga) is the sequel to the magnificent Lady Snowblood (1973) which, not surprisingly, does not quite rise to the heights of its predecessor. Lady Snowblood: Love Song of Vengeance is still however a film well worth watching; it has a more complex, convoluted plot than Lady Snowblood but is told in a much more straightforward manner. Perhaps the most telling change, however, is that the moral ambiguity that made the first film so interesting and compelling has disappeared and in Lady Snowblood: Love Song of Vengeance after the first ten minutes there is no doubting just whose side we are on.

     In the lead role diminutive Kaji Meiko remains beautiful and compelling. Lady Snowblood: Love Song of Vengeance also benefits from the return of director Fujita Toshiya who continues his innovative camera techniques, such as a moving, swaying camera and tilted frames, but with a new cinematographer in Tatsuo Suzuki it does not feel as innovative or successful. However, the film still looks stunning with beautiful widescreen images such as sunsets or seascapes. The film, of course, is very bloody, with limbs and bodies hacked apart and sprays of vibrant red blood covering clothing and faces and if anything is gorier than its predecessor, with some quite graphic torture scenes or a hairpin thrust into a person’s eye.

     Lady Snowblood from 1973 is a magnificent film and it would have been very difficult for a sequel to match its power. Lady Snowblood: Love Song of Vengeance has a more complex plot, but is less morally ambiguous, yet it retains the excellent Kaji Meiko in the lead role and as a stand-alone film it is a bloody and exciting action film in its own right.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Lady Snowblood: Love Song of Vengeance is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, the original theatrical ratio, and is 16x9 enhanced.

     This almost forty year old film is quite soft, especially with the constantly swaying camera, although close-ups are fine. Colours are beautiful and deep; the seascapes, the autumn leaves look great and the blood is a vibrant red, whether spurting into the air from necks or covering the ground. Indeed, some of the colours are so bright there is occasional colour bleed, especially with interior reds. Blacks are very good, although some shadow detail is lost. Skin tones are natural, contrast and brightness is consistent.

     The print shows a fair amount of grain, and some very minor aliasing, but the print is blemish and mark free.

    English subtitles are in American English and easy to read and mistake free. They are mostly in a yellow font, but when two people were talking the other dialogue is in a white font. On a couple of occasions a “pop up” text appeared in white at the top of the screen to explain certain Japanese terms, such as “Sensei” or “honcho”.

     A good looking print with beautiful colours.

Video Ratings Summary
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Audio

     The audio is Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 at 224 Kbps, which is not surround encoded. The film was released with mono sound, so this represents the original mix.

     Dialogue was clear. The sound effects were quite sharp; they obviously lacked depth but still worked well. There is no hiss or crackles. The original score by Hirose Kenjiro was OK but lacked the sparkle and diversity that made Hirao Masaaki’s score for Lady Snowblood so memorable.

    Lip synchronisation was sometimes out, but was never distracting.

     The audio track was perfectly adequate for the film, reflecting the original release.

Audio Ratings Summary
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Audio Sync
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Surround Channel Use
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Extras

Lady Snowblood Trailers

     Lady Snowblood (2:44) and Lady Snowblood: Love Song of Vengeance (2:22).

Promotional Trailers

     Trailers: Eastern Eye Promo Reel (2:21), Princess Blade (0:52), Versus (1:54), Boiling Point (2:08), Arahan (2:40), JSA: Joint Security Area (2:33), Zatoichi Meets One Arm Swordsman (2:13), Full Metal Alchemist (1:32), Invyasha (1:27) and Ikki Tousen (1:27).

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     Releases of Lady Snowblood: Love Song of Vengeance have been around a while. The current Region 1 US release contains trailers, the Region 2 UK version has no extras listed.

     Lady Snowblood 1 & 2 as a DVD set is available in the US and UK. The UK Blu-ray / DVD contains an interview with Jasper Sharp, an expert on Japanese cinema, that runs just over 11 minutes.

     Where DVD is concerned our two disc Region 4 release of Lady Snowblood and Lady Snowblood: Love Song of Vengeance is fine, not to mention good value.

Summary

     Lady Snowblood: Love Song of Vengeance, the sequel to the magnificent Lady Snowblood, does not quite rise to the heights of its predecessor but is still a bloody and exciting action film in its own right.

     The video is very good, the audio fine, trailers are the only extras.

     Lady Snowblood and Lady Snowblood: Love Song of Vengeance are released in a two DVD package by Madman with a RRP of $19.95. This is the same package that was released previously but if you have any interest in Asian action cinema and don’t have Lady Snowblood, this is a chance to give both films a look.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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