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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.

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Having just booked a trip to Japan for this summer I’ve decided to use  it as the perfect opportunity to watch the huge pile of Japanese movies I’ve been slinging into my cupboard for the past 10 years.

Japan’s culture has always been absolutely fascinating to me, particularly their cinematic output – or at least what we can get our hands on in the West. Many of the Japanese films I’ve seen are easily among the most eclectic I’ve seen when it comes to both style and subject matter, and it’s probably the only country where Yakuza, Ninjas, Robots, Monsters, Samurai and Martial Artists appear to be fairly ‘mainstream’ movies.

For the next 6 months I’ll be consuming and reviewing all of the major genres and themes that have defined Japanese cinema on the world stage: 1950s Samurai Epics, J-Horror of the 2000s, 80s/90s Sci-Fi & Cyberpunk, 4 decades of Yakuza flicks, Monster Movies and some of the most bizarre and unique one-off films the country has to offer. The viewing list is fairly big, but a list as varied as: Branded to Kill, Wild Zero, Zatochi, Babycart (Lone Wolf and Cub), Ghost in the Shell, Akira, Ichi the Killer, Seven Samurai, Tokyo Story, Tetsuo: Iron Man, Tokyo Gore Police, Tokyo Decadence, Lady Snowblood, Godzilla – to name but a few.

I’ll also take a look at how Japan (and East Asia) has been portrayed in Western movies over the years, which hasn’t always been positive; bringing to mind things like the fairly racist stereotypes like Mr Yunioshi from Breakfast at Tiffany’s (played by a caucasian – not uncommon), everyone as a Yakuza (Black Rain), student nerds (almost every high-school film), exotic and erotic females and so on. I can barely think of a single Japanese character in a major Hollywood film that wasn’t nerdy / socially inept / over-disciplined / tech savvy / submissive etc.

As always, I’m happy to take on any film suggestions providing I can get my hands on it easily enough. Also happy to team up with other bloggers, publish some guest reviews, collaborations etc – so please get in touch if you’re interested!

Cheers, and I hope you enjoy it.

/Paul

Current reading: Battle Royale13 AssassinsSukiyaki Western DjangoGozuThe Machine GirlSurvive Style 5+Tokyo Zombie20th Century BoysHana-BiVersus

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