9/30/08

Kill Quentin:Part 2- The Legend of Animation, Arterial Spray, and Bloody Revenge

Hello and welcome back Moonies to the next installment of Kill Quentin where we'll dissect the second film that inspired Kill Bill Parts 1 & 2. Tonight we will be focusing partly on the character of O-Ren Ishii. The part was played by the lovely Lucy Liu who is always a joy to see. That is unless you happen to watch Rise:Bloodhunter. That particular film made me have an urgent need to make Miss Liu a sandwich and make sure she ate it, but that's neither here nor there. What we're here to discuss is a movie of karmic vengeance, of unrelenting determination, of bloody arterial sprays that the whole family can enjoy. So welcome one and all to the world of....

Lady Snowblood (1973) starring Keiko Kaji, Toshio Kurosawa, and Miyoko Akaza. Directed by Toshiya Fujita.

Karma is a many splendored thing. It can make Jason Lee a sitcom star. It can run over your dogma. It can belong to a Chameleon. Or it can cause a baby to be driven by vengeance from the point of it's birth onward. 

The story of Lady Snowblood  begins before she was even conceived. Her mother and father traveled to a small village for the husband, Go,  to become the new school teacher. Unfortunately for the couple, Go's white garb makes a gang of thugs think he is the new government man. Three men kill him and their boy child while a woman holds the wife, Sayo,  back. Then they throw her to the ground and stand over her in a shot eerily reminiscent of Tarintino's Bride's wedding. 

Sayo becomes a servant to one of the men until she manages to kill him. (The death scene doesn't exactly mirror the animated revenge of O-Ren in KB:Part 1, but it can be easily seen as the inspiration.) Sayo is sent to prison where she humps every man she can find in order to get pregnant. She achieves her goal, but dies in childbirth. However, not before she can impart her newborn with the karmic spirit of her vengeance. The little girl is taken to study under the master Dokai when she learns the art of the sword. When she emerges from training, she is reborn as Lady Snowbood. 

She becomes an assassin and ingratiates herself with a tribe who can help her track down the men and the woman she has on her list. She ruthlessly peruses each one to exact justice for her mother. She even goes so far as to save one of the killers from being dispatched by the Yakuza
so that she herself can do the deed. She hits a few roadblocks on the way, but the Lady will not be satisfied until every drop of blood has been wrenched from the bodies of the killers. 

Lets take a bit of time to look at what Quentin lifted from this film. Well, there's the obvious. Lady Snowblood and O-Ren Ishii share a common look and similar kind of violent background. She's got a list (like Quentin's Bride) of the people who wronged her mother, and when the killers show up, they get a freeze frame with their name superimposed on it. There are also a couple of sequences where the film veers toward animation to tell it's tale with images from the original manga shown with voice over.  The opening scene occurs in a snowy landscape as does the final fight between The Bride and O-Ren, and I would be remiss if I didn't mention the arterial spray. Though not as over the top as seen in the House of Blue Leaves fight in Kill Bill; the blood does gush mightily like a Diet Coke with a Mentos in it. The theme song "The Flower of Carnage", which was sung by Meiko Kaji, was also used by Quentin in his film, and the score to the film ranges from very classical samurai film fare to more western and even funky numbers. 

The film itself is very finely made. Many of the shots were gorgeous and while I was looking out for a reflection of Kill Bill, I also picked up traces of modern anime in the composition of shots. (This is probably not surprising seeing as the story has it's roots the the manga of Kazuo Koike, the man also behind the Lone Wolf and Cub stories.) The plot built well with a couple nicely placed turns, and the actors seemed to do a very good job (although I confess to having a harder time judging performances in other languages). Overall I enjoyed it, but for my revenge flick dollar I can think of at least ten other films I would rather see. 

Bug Rating

And so ends the second installment of Kill Quentin. What will become of our cult director hero next week as The Lightning Bug examines The Bride Wore Black in the grand finale? Will there be a showdown? Will the Lightning Bug make more snarky comments? Oh, you can bet on that last one, so come back next Tuesday for the dramatic conclusion. 

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