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JAPANORAMA - Seven Monkey BANNER JAPAN-O-RAMA.jpgThe Princess Blade 2001 2003 Yumiko Shaku, Hideaki Ito, Yoichi Numata, Kyusaku Shimada, Yōko Maki, Shinsuke Sato

As part of the JAPANORAMA feature I am inviting fellow movie sites to join in. This is another post from Andy at Fandango Groovers Movie Blog, who reviewed Azumi last week, and is back for more. Paragraph Review below, his extended review can be found here.

The Princess Blade (Shura Yukihime, 修羅雪姫) (2003), directed by: Shinsuke Sato is loosely based on the manga comic Lady Snowblood by Kazuo Koike. Set in near future Japan; imagine the Village crossed with a samurai movie.  Yuki (Yumiko Shaku), The Princess Blade of the title is the last surviving royal of the House of Takemikazuchi. Living in isolation from the world, they use their skills developed as Mikado guards to become the most deadly assassins for hire. She discovers that the new leader of the house killed her mother when she was a child, and her own life is in danger. On leaving she encounters Takashi part of a rebel movement that gives her an opportunity for revenge and possibly a normal life. Filled with large scale set pieces, usually involving sword fights, punctuated by slower more thoughtful moments, the movie is at its heart an updating on the ideas and ideas of a samurai movie. It loses its way towards the end but on the whole it is well worth seeing. The action is great and the near future setting is handled well and is an inspired idea.

You can read Andy’s extended review here.

Sukiyaki Western Django: Takashi Miike’s Japanese take on the spaghetti western & samurai films of yesteryear. Most confusingly all dialogue is English, but it still requires subs because the Japanese actors (naturally) struggle to deliver the Americanized lines – everyone’s acting totally suffers because of this huge distraction. All of the action is good to watch, from the quick draws through to Gatling Gun mayhem and the action-packed showdown is pretty immense. The gang costumes are flamboyant and seeing the red & white colours constantly jumping out is a real treat on the eyes. Miike does a fantastic job of keeping it stylish throughout, whilst minimising his trademark ‘weirdness’ – although the sheriff character was truly pants. You can’t help but think that if he focused on perfecting one or two films a year instead of 5-6 he’d be one of the best directors on the planet. Overall there’s no denying this is a bunch of tried themes, concepts and characters tied neatly together and packaged as homage. Still, this one’s worth a watch if you like foreign and offbeat movies.

Score: 6/10