Lady Snowblood (film)

Lady Snowblood (film)

Infobox Film
name = Lady Snowblood

image_size =
caption = Poster to "Lady Snowblood"
director = Toshiya Fujita
producer = Kikumaru Okuda
writer = Kazuo Uemura
Kazuo Koike
narrator =
starring = Meiko Kaji
Ko Nishimura
Toshio Kurosawa
Masaaki Daimon
music = Masaaki Hirao
cinematography = Masaki Tamura
editing =
distributor = Toho
released = flagicon|Japan December 1, 1973
runtime = 97 min
country = Japan
language = Japanese
budget =
gross =
preceded_by =
followed_by =
website =
amg_id = 1:303611
imdb_id = 0158714
nihongo|"Lady Snowblood"|修羅雪姫|"Shurayukihime""' is a 1973 Japanese film directed by Toshiya Fujita and starring Meiko Kaji. It is based on the manga of the same name by writer Kazuo Koike and artist Kazuo Kamimura and follows the story of the titular assassin seeking vengeance upon the bandits who raped her mother and murdered her mother's husband.

It produced a sequel the following year, a remake in 2001.


Note: The following events are written in their chronological form, which differs from the order shown in the film.

tory of Vengeance

During Japan's Meiji period, the overthrow of government caused riots throughout Japan. A phrase in Japan's universal conscription law suggested that government officials would collect the blood of conscripts. Men wearing white were commonly believed to be government officials coming to collect this "blood tax", and were murdered for money.

A teacher (Kashima Gō, played by Masaaki Daimon), his wife Sayo (Miyoko Akaza), and their son Shiro (Shinichi Uchida) walk through a field in Kashima prefecture. Since the teacher is wearing white, a bell rings and a band of criminals attack the family. A woman named Kitahama Okono (Sanae Nakahara) holds Sayo while the three men, Takemura Banzō (Noboru Nakaya), Shokei Tokuichi (Takeo Chii), and Tsukamoto Gishirō (Eiji Okada) stab and murder the man. They also kill Shiro (off-screen) and take Sayo to be raped and beaten. After some time, Tokuichi secretly takes Sayo far away to work for him. Sayo takes this opportunity and stabs him with a knife, killing him. Sayo is taken to a women's prison. After realizing she will not be able to avenge the death of her husband and son, she seduces any prison guard she can in order to conceive a child. Hoping for a strong boy, she receives a girl, which she names Yuki. After telling her cellmates to raise the child for vengeance, Sayo dies from childbirth.

About six years later, one of the women takes the young Yuki (Mayumi Maemura) to a priest called Dōkai (Kō Nishimura) to be trained for her revenge. She learns how to fight with a sword and dodge attacks. When Yuki is twenty years old (now played by Meiko Kaji), she sets out to find the remaining fugitives.

Oyuki's Retribution

Searching first for Takemura Banzō, Yuki encounters Banzō's daughter Kobue (Yoshiko Nakada), posing as a maker of chikufujin in order to hide her true role as a prostitute from her father. Yuki finds Banzō while working as dealer for Cho-han bakuchi. Banzō is caught cheating in a gambling house, but Yuki persuades the yakuza owners to pardon him. Later, she confronts him on a beach and asks him if he remembers raping her mother. He remembers, and begs for forgiveness. She does not comply, and slashes his torso with her sword. She then dumps his body into the ocean from the same cliff that Kobue had dumped her unsold chikufujin.

After learning that Tsukamoto Gishirō has died naturally, she visits and desecrates his grave. While walking through the town, she meets a reporter named Ryūrei Ashio (Toshio Kurasawa). He questions her past, and then writes about it in his paper as a supposed fiction. This is used as a lure to get Kitahama Okono to reveal herself. It works, and she sends some of her men armed as police officers to kidnap Ashio. They torture him for Yuki's location, but he refuses to tell them. At the same time, Yuki infiltrates the large estate and kills several of Okono's men. When she enters one of the buildings she is fired upon by Okono, who is holding Ashio at gunpoint on a balcony. Ashio escapes and knocks over a candle, setting the room alight and distracting Okono. Yuki leaps up and slashes Okono, and she falls from the balcony to the floor behind. More of Okono's men enter, and Yuki throws a "thunder-sand bomb" from a small decoration in her hair. She leaps down and eliminates them all. She realizes Okono has escaped the room and stalks through the house in search of her. In one room she finds Okono has hung herself. In a rage, she slices Okono's hanging corpse in half.

The Final Retribution

Believing she has avenged her family's death, Yuki and Ashio become lovers, but then Ashio learns that Gishirō is still alive and nearby. He reveals that Gishirō is his father. Yuki is surprised, but still intends to kill him. She goes to a masquerade ball and sees Gishirō exit through a hidden door on a wall. She follows, and he attacks her with a sword as she enters another room. She narrowly dodges his attack, and is wounded in the right shoulder. She cuts off his hands and kills him. Ashio enters and they realize that it is not really Gishirō, but a man in a mask. Ashio smashes a two-way mirror, revealing the real Gishirō escaping to a flight of stairs. Ashio takes the dead man's sword and they follow him, but two sets of stairs lead out of the room. They each take a flight of stairs, and end up on second floor balconies on opposite sides of the ballroom. Ashio took the staircase following Gishirō, and Yuki sees that Ashio is threatening him with a sword as he aims a pistol at her. After a brief mexican standoff, Gishirō shoots Ashio, in the lower chest. Badly wounded, Ashio manages to stop him from shooting Yuki as she swings on a lamp between the balconies. Gishirō gets off a couple of shots at Yuki as she charges him, but they miss and Yuki stabs through Ashio to kill Gishirō. She pulls out her sword and slashes Gishirō again in the face, but he shoots her in the chest. He falls over a railing and onto the ground floor full of guests.

Yuki realizes she has been shot by Gishirō. She stumbles outside into the snow and Kobue suddenly appears again, wielding a small tanto sword. She runs up and stabs Yuki, avenging the death of her father, Banzō. Kobue runs out of sight as Yuki stumbles across the snow, then falls. She cries for losing Ashio and thinks of her family as the sun sets. The film ends with Yuki miraculously opening her eyes the next morning.


* Meiko Kaji as Yuki Kashima, aka Lady Snowblood.
* Ko Nishimura as Priest Dōkai.
* Toshio Kurosawa as Ryūrei Ashio.
* Masaaki Daimon as Gō Kashima.
* Miyoko Akaza as Sayo Kashima.
* Eiji Okada as Gishirō Tsukamoto.


The manga on which the film was based was released in 1972 to 1973. The English edition was collected in 4 volumes in 2005 to 2006.

Additional sub-stories where Oyuki is contracted to kill various people depicted in the manga were not translated to the film. Unlike the tragic ending of the film, the manga ends with Oyuki tossing her umbrella which houses her hidden sword into the sea after completing her task of vengeance.

equel and remakes

The film spawned one sequel, "" ("Shurayukihime: Urami Renga", 1974). In it Yuki is in prison for the crimes she committed in the first movie. The Japanese government offers to free her if she will kill an enemy of the state.

A 2001 science fiction remake, released in the US as "The Princess Blade", stars Yumiko Shaku and features fight choreography by Donnie Yen.

It was a major inspiration for Quentin Tarantino's "Kill Bill" films. It borrows plot, characters, visual motifs and settings. In fact, Kill Bill plays like an extended remake of Lady Snowblood. The scene in which The Bride fights O-Ren Ishii uses a snowy landscape that echoes scenes in "Lady Snowblood", and the theme song sung by Meiko Kaji (translated by Tarantino as "The Flower of Carnage") is also used in "Kill Bill, Vol. 1".

External links

* " [ Lady Snowblood] " at the Japanese Movie Database
* " [ Lady Snowblood 2: Love Song of Vengeance] " at the Japanese Movie Database



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