|S E A R C H D V D B e a v e r|
Lady Snowblood + Lady Snowblood 2: Love Song of Vengeance [Blu-ray]
(Toshiya Fujita, 1973 + 1974)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Toho Film (Eiga) Co. Ltd.
Video: Eureka - Arrow Video / Criterion Collection Spine # 790 + 791
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
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):
• Slicing Through the Snow An exclusive interview with
Japanese cinema expert Jasper Sharp (11:15)
New interviews with Kazuo Koike (10:18), the writer of the manga that inspired
the films, and screenwriter Norio Osada (21:28)
Description: From the original manga by Kasuo Koike (Lone
Wolf and Cub) and the main inspiration for Quentin
Kill Bill, Lady Snowblood is a blood
spattered Samurai masterpiece from the golden age of
Japanese cult cinema!
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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!
September 20th, 2012
January 2nd, 2016
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.
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze
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