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(aka "The Tattooed Swordswoman" or "Kaidan nobori ryű")

 

directed by Teruo Ishii
Japan 1970

 

Upon the death of her father, Akemi (Meiko Kaji, LADY SNOWBLOOD) becomes the head of the Tachibana gang and swears vengeance on rival gang leader Goda. In the act of slaying him, she accidentally blinds his sister and a black cat laps at the spilled blood. From that point on, she is haunted by nightmares and believes she is cursed by the cat (or "Bakeneko"). While serving time in prison, she makes allies among her cell mates who then ask to join her gang when they are released and find her having resumed her position as gang leader. Although not entirely rehabilitated, Akemi has been a more lenient leader in the face of attacks on her territory from smelly, flatulent rival Aozora (Ry˘hei Uchida, THE HUMAN CONDITION despite urges from right hand man Tatsu (Shir˘ ďtsuji, AN ACTOR'S REVENGE to crush the opposition (of course, he is actually plotting with gang leader Dobashi [T˘ru Abe, TOKYO STORY] to wipe out both gangs). When a blind swordswoman (Hoki Tokuda) offers up her services to Dobashi and a black cat starts making appearances alongside the bodies of her slaughtered allies, Akemi must take up the sword against her human enemies; but she may also have to face off with the blind swordswoman and the blood-drinking cat!

An extremely rare horror outing from Nikkatsu, and an even rarer hybrid of Yakuza films and the supernatural, BLIND WOMAN'S CURSE - also known as THE TATTOOED SWORDSWOMAN, BLACK CAT'S REVENGE, or THE HAUNTED LIFE OF THE TATTOOED LASS - as described above encompasses much more in eighty-odd minutes including more gang intriguge, a psychotic hunchback dancer (Tatsumi Hijikata, HORRORS OF MALFORMED MEN), an opium harem, opium dealing, foot fetishes, torture, and a subplot courtship between reformed gangster Tani (Makoto Sat˘,
THE HIDDEN FORTRESS) and ingenue Chie (Y˘ko Takagi). The tone veers unpredictably between comic relief, bloody action (quite explicit for Japan 1970), and gothic horror (and almost Italian horror in the bizarrely eclectic score of TOKYO DRIFER's Hajime Kaburagi). Meiko Kaji has her first lead role here, and would become a Japanese exploitation icon as characters like Lady Snowblood, FEMALE CONVICT SCORPION's Matsu, gang leader Nami in the WANDERING GINZA BUTTERFLY films, and the leads of the four STRAY CAT ROCK films.

 - Eric Cotenas

Theatrical Release: August 6th, 1971 (USA)

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Comparison:

Disotek Media - Region 0 - NTSC vs. Arrow Video - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas and Gary Tooze for the Screen Caps!

(Disotek Media - Region 0 - NTSC - LEFT vs. Arrow Video - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - RIGHT)

Box Covers

 

 

 

 

 

Distribution

Disotek Media

Region 0 - NTSC

Arrow Video
Region 'B' -
Blu-ray
Runtime 1:24:48 1:24:51.127
Video

2.39:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 7.18 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1080P Single-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 24,401,664,745 bytes

Feature: 21,292,732,416 bytes

Video Bitrate: 29.97 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

 

Disotek Media

 

Bitrate:

 

Arrow Video Blu-ray

 

Audio Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 mono

LPCM Audio Japanese 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit
Commentary: Dolby Digital Audio English 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps

Subtitles English, none English (SDH), none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Disotek Media

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 2.39:1

Edition Details:
•  Audio Commentary by American Cinematheque's Chris D.
• About the Film
• Filmographies
• Photo Gallery
• Theatrical Trailer (16:9; 3:32)
• Trailers for 'Zero Woman', 'Ebola Syndrome', and 'Sars Wars'

DVD Release Date: 8 May 2007
Amaray

Chapters 17

Release Information:
Studio: Arrow Video

Aspect Ratio:  2.44:1

1080P Single-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 24,401,664,745 bytes

Feature: 21,292,732,416 bytes

Video Bitrate: 29.97 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:
• Audio Commentary by Jasper Sharp
• Theatrical Trailer (3:20)
• Stray Cat Rock Trailers ('Wild Jumbo', 'Sex Hunter', 'Machine Animal', and 'Beat '71')
• Region 2 PAL DVD of the feature and extras
• Newly commissioned artwork
• Collector’s booklet
 

Blu-ray Release Date: March 31st, 2014
Transparent Blu-ray case

Chapters 12

 

Comments

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

ADDITION: Arrow - Region 'B' Blu-ray - March 2014: Arrow's transfer of Blind Woman's Curse (aka The Tattooed Swordswoman) is single-layered but still has a high bitrate for the one-hour 24-minute film. The OOP 2007 DVD looks boosted, brittle and has compression artifacts and edge-enhancement (see sample). It is probably acceptable for presentation on a 26" tube but for larger HD systems, the thicker Arrow Blu-ray is superior. While the 1080P can look softer, in my experience, this very much how many of these very-widescreen Japanese films of the 60's and 70's appeared. It shows much more detail (see the rain in cat in the rain capture) and also more information in the frame. The UK is a bit lighter and, also , has some minor damage (mostly frame specific - see the bottom edge with the close-ups of the cat - 7th of the bonus captures.) The Arrow is solid in-motion while the SD seems like it may be more frail. I doubt dual-layering would advance the image in this case. I was quite happy with the Blu-ray video as it played on my system.

Audio, Arrow go linear PCM, in original Japanese mono at 1536 Kbps. It's not without its minor rough patches - mostly exhibiting a screetchy high-end at times. This, again, I would bet that this would totally be in-line with the original production. Hajime Kaburagi's memorable score sounds solid with some impressive depth supporting the film's action sequences very pleasingly. There are optional subtitles on the region 'B'-locked Blu-ray disc. 

Midnight Eye's Jasper Sharp - who provided liner notes for Impulse Pictures/Synapse Films' Nikkatsu releases - discusses the film's status as the last of Nikkatsu's mainstream films before transitioning to erotica, the careers of director Ishii and star Kaji (and her later work at Toei), as well as the film in the context of Yakuza films and Japanese horror films (including the literary and cinematic tradition of "ghost cat" movies in Japan like KURONEKO), mainly using elements of the film as springboard for discussion of various aspects of Japanese cinema in general. Other extras include a trailer for the film, trailers for the four "Stray Cat Rock" films Kaji did for Nikkatsu, as well as a new cover art and a collector's essay booklet. A PAL DVD is included in the dual-format release.

This was great! and the commentary enhanced my appreciation. Wow - great choice by Arrow. I know I will be revisiting this gem. Absolutely recommended!

Gary Tooze

***

ON THE DVD: Discotek Media's release is a rather dark, interlaced presentation that looked okay on older television sets but simply old on widescreen televisions that should show the anamorphic encode off at its best. There is a layer of consistent hiss on the Dolby Digital 2.0 mono soundtrack (although this is present to a degree on the Arrow combo) while the optional English subtitles are small-ish but feature some variations compared to the Arrow subtitles (including what might be considered a subtler conclusion to Akemi's "formal introduction"). Supplements consist mainly of text extras and a commentary by American Cinematheque programmer Chris D., who seems no less informed than Sharp on the Arrow track with reference to the film with plenty of overlapping information about Nikkatsu and Toei, Kaji, and Ishii (he does go into more detail about some of the other actors and technicians who were Nikkatsu regulars).

 - Eric Cotenas

 


 Menus
(Disotek Media - Region 0 - NTSC - LEFT vs. Arrow Video - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - RIGHT)
 

 


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

 

Screen Captures

(Disotek Media - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP vs. Arrow Video - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)
Subtitle sample

 


(Disotek Media - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP vs. Arrow Video - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)

 


(Disotek Media - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP vs. Arrow Video - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)

 


(Disotek Media - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP vs. Arrow Video - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)

 


(Disotek Media - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP vs. Arrow Video - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)

 

 


(Disotek Media - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP vs. Arrow Video - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)

 


(Disotek Media - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP vs. Arrow Video - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)

 


(Disotek Media - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP vs. Edge Enhancement on DVD - MIDDLE vs.  Arrow Video - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)

 


(Disotek Media - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP vs. Arrow Video - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)

 


(Disotek Media - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP vs. Arrow Video - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)

More  Blu-ray Captures


 

Report Card:

 

Image:

Blu-ray

Sound:

Blu-ray

Extras: Draw (on commentaries)

 
Box Covers

 

 

 

 

 

Distribution

Disotek Media

Region 0 - NTSC

Arrow Video
Region 'B' -
Blu-ray

 

 




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