Revenge...the most worthless of causes yet the basis for some of the greatest stories.
I'm stunned guys. I really didn't know what to expect at all but this movie...it's in my top 5 maybe even top 3 of this genre. I just, wow. Like almost every point of praise I gave to all the past movies of this week, all those elements have been upped to 11. But first, story time! The film once again has a structure like Lone Wolf And Cub where it jumps back in time, as we see a young woman give birth to a baby girl in prison, who soon grows up to seek vengeance on the people who tortured and raped her mother and butchered her family. It's a pretty intense plot, and every choice made by the entire production team I just could not stop loving. The set design and artistic choices are outstanding, the cinematography is varied and somehow makes your viewing engagement even more intense, the actors are great, the fight scenes are the most bloody I've seen in any sword fighting movie, it's just incredible. I feel that this movie should have been called Sword Of Vengeance for a reason you'll know when we get to the second film but that's just my own little thought bubble. Meiko Kaji is our star and not only does she have a fantastic design with a ghostly palor and the subtle but distinguishable eyes that look on the verge of weeping bloody tears, not only is she so stunning and beautiful that if looks could kill you'd be carved in half, but her performance man. Even though she doesn't say an awful lot, you feel her dedication to this cause, her passion and intensity, through almost strictly facial expressions. She's just brilliant in every way. I knew going in this was a duology, so I really had no clue how this movie was going to end and it really kept me guessing to the end title card. In fact this movie had plot moments that shocked me quite a few times, with one antagonist they give you 3 loops that I wouldn't dream of spoiling. This movie had me hook, line, and sinker from shot one but it kept ramping up my enjoyment and interest. For half the movie I thought she wouldn't even obtain her goal of eliminating these four individuals and would go on into the second movie. The plot does indeed remind me of Kill Bill, and I think this was one of the biggest influences for that movie. It's certainly not a wimp about showing the brutality, even I was wincing, and exclaiming, and letting my jaw drop. But a thought struck me that honestly was staring me straight in the face since Lone Wolf And Cub, the blood is straight up Hammer blood, it's that rich almost neon blood effect and I feel like a fool for not noticing it earlier. And the style it exudes in every shot is beyond amazing, again elements of Lone Wolf but enhanced and elevated exponentially, with the sharp cuts, zooms, handheld camera footage, and all expertly executed in every way. It does have a certain grindhouse feel if even just a itty bitty bit. I loved it man, I seriously consider this one of the best I've seen in the samurai cinema world. Like right up there with Sanjuro and Tale Of Zatoichi as one of my favorites ever. I'd give it 5 stars if I could, 9/10! Damn, this was something else. But wait, there's more! We're doing the sequel today!