Search DVDBeaver

S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

 

H D - S E N S E I

A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Lady Snowblood + Lady Snowblood 2: Love Song of Vengeance [Blu-ray]

 

(Toshiya Fujita, 1973 + 1974)

 

Also available as a Limited Edition Steelbook from Arrow HERE:

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Toho Film (Eiga) Co. Ltd.

Video: Eureka - Arrow Video / Criterion Collection Spine # 790 + 791

 

Disc:

Region: 'B'-locked / Region 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:36:54.850 / 1:29:02.378 / 1:37:15.955 / 1:29:24.776

Disc Size: 47,950,276,505 bytes / 47,488,871,907 bytes

Feature Sizes: 25,678,368,768 bytes / Part 2: 20,802,398,208 bytes

Feature Sizes: 21,659,092,992 bytes / Part 2: 19,869,235,200 bytes

Video Bitrate: 32.00 Mbps / Part 2: 27.99 Mbps / 25.99 Mbps / Part 2: 25.94 Mbps

Chapters: 12 X 2 / 27 X 2

Case: Standard Blu-ray case / Transparent Blu-ray case

Release date: September 24th, 2012 / January 5th, 2016

 

Video (same for both):

Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

LPCM Audio Japanese 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit

LPCM Audio Japanese 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit

 

Subtitles (same for both):

English, none

 

Extras:

Slicing Through the Snow An exclusive interview with Japanese cinema expert Jasper Sharp (11:15)
Original theatrical trailers for both films
Collector s booklet The Crimson Kimono by critic and author Tom Mes, illustrated with original stills.

New interviews with Kazuo Koike (10:18), the writer of the manga that inspired the films, and screenwriter Norio Osada (21:28)
Trailers (2:45, 2;24)
PLUS: An essay by critic Howard Hampton

 

Bitrate:

Arrow

 

 

Criterion

 

 

Description: From the original manga by Kasuo Koike (Lone Wolf and Cub) and the main inspiration for Quentin Tarantino s Kill Bill, Lady Snowblood is a blood spattered Samurai masterpiece from the golden age of Japanese cult cinema!

Kidnapped and abused by samurai a woman who finds herself in jail plots revenge by getting pregnant to raise an instrument of death! The child, Yuki, is raised with the single purpose of cutting down the four beasts that brutalised her mother, dismembering every down, dirty lowlife that stands in her way.

***

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.

 

 

 

The Films:

Gory revenge is raised to the level of visual poetry in Toshiya Fujita’s stunning Lady Snowblood. A major inspiration for Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill saga, this endlessly inventive film, set in late nineteenth-century Japan, charts the single-minded path of vengeance taken by a young woman (Meiko Kaji) whose parents were the unfortunate victims of a gang of brutal criminals. Fujita creates a wildly entertaining action film of remarkable craft, an effortless balancing act between beauty and violence.

***

Toshiya Fujita's samurai picture is a striking combination of violence, feminism, history lesson and literary conceit, and one deserving of better attention. The slight but awe-inspiring Meiko Kaji plays Yuki Kashime, who has vowed to avenge the rape of her mother Saro. Four criminals had attacked Saro, and her schoolteacher husband, 20 years previously. After his killing, then her three-day rape and torture ordeal (here shown in a mercifully short, single sequence) and her confinement to prison for murder, she gave birth to Yuki, pledging her offspring to wreaking her revenge on those four responsible. Yuri is called Lady Snowblood "because the snow that cleanses the decay of the netherworld is fiery red, rather than pure white" - presumably reflecting the imbalance her mother's defilement has caused in this world and others.

Excerpt from VideoVista located HERE

Meiko Kaji returns in Toshiya Fujita’s invigorating sequel to his own cult hit Lady Snowblood. Our furious heroine is captured by the authorities and sentenced to death for the various killings she has committed; however, she is offered a chance of escape—if she carries out dangerous orders for the government. More politically minded than the original, Lady Snowblood: Love Song of Vengeance is full of exciting plot turns and ingenious action sequences.

Excerpt from VideoVista located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

The Blu-ray contains both parts 1 + 2 of Fujita's Lady Snowblood. So it's dual-layered but essentially,  represents single-layered transfer for each film. Part one looks quite thick and heavy and dull. Contrast is muddy-ish and the image is dark. Part two gets brighter with detail and contrast marginally superior. This greenish hue is probably accurate to the source used. There was no undue noise and the visuals are notably improved from their SD counterparts. This Blu-ray won't be a reference disc but does supply consistent 1080P presentations.

 

Wow. I can't recall a more dramatic difference in Blu-ray visuals. The Criterion is cited as a 'new 2K digital restorations of both films'. You can see the Criterion is significantly brighter - almost excessively so (occasionally losing detail), crushed blacks - it is saturated and leans towards a bluish hue. I have no idea of the original theatrical appearance but the Criterion looks much crisper to me - and it gave me significantly richer presentation - colors are exuberant (especially blood). There is slightly more information in the frame on the Criterion. Technically, they are similar - both films share a dual-layered disc. I expect some fans will appreciate the new Criterion look - it breathes some vibrant life into Lady Snowblood. I would think the preferred look might be in-between the two transfers.   

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

1) Arrow - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Arrow - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Arrow - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Arrow - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Arrow - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Arrow - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Arrow - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Arrow - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Part 2

 

1) Arrow - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Arrow - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Arrow - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Arrow - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Arrow - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Arrow - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Audio :

Both films are transferred with the same linear PCM 2.0 channel track at 1536 kbps in the original Japanese. I think it sounds okay - but nothing dynamic. It is clear and clean - probably not far off the original production. The second film may be marginally crisper. The audio transfer seemed to support the films adequately. There are optional English (SDH) subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'B'-locked.

 

Criterion advance here are well - still linear PCM - but now 1.0 channel mono and 24-bit as opposed to Arrow's 16-bit. It sounds more buoyant and authentically flat with a modicum of depth. Criterion also add optional English subtitles - their disc is region 'A'-locked.

 

 

Extras :

Supplements consist of a 11-minute, exclusive, interview with Japanese cinema expert Jasper Sharp entitled Slicing Through the Snow and original theatrical trailers for both films. The package contains a liner notes booklet essay The Crimson Kimono by critic and author Tom Mes, illustrated with original stills.

 

Criterion advance here too - with new interviews with Kazuo Koike, the writer of the Manga that inspired the films - lasting over 10-minutes and we get 21-minutes spent with screenwriter Norio Osada (both interviews in Japanese with English subs.) There are trailers for each film and a liner notes booklet with an essay by critic Howard Hampton.

Arrow - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

 

 

Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
Lady Snowblood is easy to get into for fans of the genre. In Fact many might consider these films to be at the upper tier of samurai action/thriller. Certainly it is notable fro the female protagonist. The first effort is pretty cool - paving the way for the second. I was entertained by the charisma of the productions. Arrow's Blu-ray has benefits over SD and may represent the best the films presently look on digital. These will never be Home Theater demo-fodder but can offer solid presentations that fans will surely revisit.

Quite the revelation for Lady Snowblood fans. Criterion's spanking new image, improved sound and added + new extras make it the definitive Blu-ray presently for this complete 2-film collection. It's great to have a choice - but we lean to the Criterion and the film gets our highest recommendation! 

Gary Tooze

September 20th, 2012

January 2nd, 2016

 

Also available as a Limited Edition Steelbook from Arrow HERE:


 

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze

 

       HIGH DEFINITION DVD STORE     ALL OUR NEW FORMAT DVD REVIEWS

 

 




 

Hit Counter

 

DONATIONS Keep DVDBeaver alive:

 CLICK PayPal logo to donate!

Gary Tooze

Thank You!