Movie Review of the Week

--Review by Riposte101 @ 8/5/03 16:39 PST.

Princess Blade

I got my grubby hands on the Princess Blade DVD today and promptly sat down to watch it. As I shoved the disc into my player I wasnít expecting much, but feared the worst. The film fared surprisingly well.

Princess Blade is a remake of the 1973 Japanese film Lady Snowblood. The story was not very deep or involving, see if this sounds familiar. In the near future, Japan has fallen back into feudal rule. Rebels seek to rise up against the government. Amidst all this, there's this girl named Yuki (Yumiko Shaku). Who's an assassin. She has a falling out with her clan, house Takemikazuchi. In her attempt to escape from them she runs into a rebel gasoline station owner, Takashi (Hideaki Ito). He saves her life and a budding relationship tries to build in between constant attempts on her life by other assassins.

It doesn't make much sense, what with assassins wielding katanas against gun wielding opponents, but how else are you going to make a martial arts movie with the future as the setting?

Goddamn if the Japan of the future isnít a barren and rural place. The locations for the film were few, but well chosen. The roads are dusty and devoid of life. It's a wonder how Takashiís gas station stays in business. Most of the action scenes take place in the forest and there is plenty of running through the woods with trees flying by footage; which is good shit. The lake setting is also breathtaking and the director (Shinsuke Sato) takes full advantage of it.

The film is a taut ninety-four minutes. On account of the length of the fight sequences, the film leaves little room for character development. For this the movie suffers. I would have liked to have seen the relationship between Takashi and Yuki more developed and given more attention.

The acting was passable if not unremarkable. Yumiko Shaku has a future in film; I would really like to see how she would fare as the lead in some romantic comedies.

Veteran Hong Kong movie star and fight choreographer, Donnie Yen did an above average job as was to be expected. But what irked me was how obvious it was that Yumiko Shaku had a body double for the fight scenes. Aside from that the film included several noteworthy shots and transitions.

The musical score was fitting and kept to the film's pacing, but forgettable.

Can I recommend the Princess Blade? That was a difficult decision for me. I teetered back and forth but Iíll settle on the highest rating just below recommendation I can give it.

Film Grade Formula

+1* Female Eye Candy Quotient
+1/2* Neat Shots/Transitions
+1* Donnie Yen Choreography
+1/2* Katanas
+1* Locations
-1/2* Yumiko Shaku's Body Double
-1/2* Story
-1/2* Character Development

Final Score: ** 1/2 out of a scale of ****

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