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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 HERE:

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Toho Film (Eiga) Co. Ltd.

Video: Eureka - Arrow Video

 

Disc:

Region: 'B'-locked (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:36:54.850 / 1:29:02.378

Disc Size: 47,950,276,505 bytes

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

Video Bitrate: 32.00 Mbps / Part 2: 27.99 Mbps

Chapters: 12 X 2

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: September 24th, 2012

 

Video:

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

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), 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.

 

Bitrate:

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

The Film:

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

In Japan, 1905, Samurai murderess Yuki (Meiko) has been arrested and sentenced to execution for a series of revenge killings. However, she's offered a reprieve by the Emperor's secret police if she will spy on political activist Ransui, and steal hard evidence of criminality that he holds against imperial authorities. Employed as a maid by Ransui, Yuki's duplicity is suspected almost at once, and after defying agency observers; she joins forces with the anarchist movement in a bid to free herself and the rebels from harassment, and secure vital food supplies for plague-infected slums, by blackmailing the government.

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 - reminiscent of many Japanese films we've covered in the same production era. Contrast is dullish on the image is dark but seems to me to represent an authentic, un-manipulated, transfer. Part two gets brighter with detail and contrast marginally superior. Much of the modest look is down to the original source and fans can't expect silk purses here. 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.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Part 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

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.

 

 

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 will look on digital. These will never be Home Theater demo-fodder but can offer solid presentations that fans will surely revisit. Recommended! 

Gary Tooze

September 20th, 2012

 

Also available as a Limited Edition Steelbook 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

 

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