(Lisa recently discovered that she only had about 8 hours of space left on her DVR! It turns out that she’s been recording movies from July and she just hasn’t gotten around to watching and reviewing them yet. So, once again, Lisa is cleaning out her DVR! She is going to try to watch and review 52 movies by the end of 2017! Will she make it? Keep checking the site to find out!)
On Oct. 23rd, I recorded the classic martial arts/revenge film, Lady Snowblood!
There’s a scene, in Lady Snowblood, in which a drunk gambler sobs as he begs the white-clad Yuki Kashima (Meiko Kaji) to spare his life. He says that he’s sorry that he raped her mother. He’s sorry that he took part in the murders of both Yuki’s half-brother and her mother’s husband. He points out that years have passed and he has changed. He now has a daughter of his own. It wasn’t even his idea to attack Yuki’s mother. He was forced to take part.
And while the gambler begs, Yuki stares down at him without a hint of emotion. Though the audience may feel conflicted because the gambler sounds sincere in his remorse and it’s obvious that his life, in the years after his crimes, has been difficult, Yuki shows no compassion. There are no tears from her. Instead, she tells him, “An eye for an eye,” before slashing him to death.
There’s another scene in which Yuki discovers that another one of her targets has attempted to escape her vengeance by committing suicide. As Yuki stares at the hanging body, she realizes that her target’s heart is still beating. With one quick slice of her sword, Yuki chops the body in half. The blood pouring onto the floor sounds like rain drops tapping on a tin roof.
And finally, when Yuki discovers that another target has died before she got a chance to track him down, she goes to a cemetery and destroy his tombstone.
In short, Yuki is a killing machine, one who dispenses vengeance with style and flair. She was literally born, bred, and trained solely for the purpose of dispensing violent justice. After her mother was raped and watched as her husband and son were brutally murdered, she was sent to prison. It was there that she had an affair with a prison guard, specifically out of the hope that she would conceive and give birth to a child of vengeance.
First released in 1973, Lady Snowblood is perhaps best known for being a major influence on the Kill Bill films but it’s also one of the best revenge films ever made. Stylishly directed and relentlessly paced, Lady Snowblood is almost a ballet of violence, with the grace of Yuki’s movements emphasized almost as much as their bloody results. Though Yuki’s grim determination is often frightening, it’s also impossible not to admire her. Her only job is to dispense vengeance and she’s the best at what she does. And since she’s a woman who, for the most part, is killing evil men in an oppressively patriarchal society, her actions soon become about more than mere revenge. With each slice of her sword and drop of blood spilled, Yuki is taking vengeance for not just her mother but for every other woman as well.
If anyone ever hurt me or anyone I loved, I would want Yuki on my side.
If I could be any revenge-seeking movie character, I would want to be Yuki.
I would want to be Lady Snowblood.