Oooohhh! If there’s one thing more than films with zombies, ghosts, and ghouls that this wee Catgirl always loves, it’s a movie with feisty sword wielding heroines, and recently my sweet Carolyn found for me a collection of classic Japanese swordplay films on DVD…. specifically the entire 4 films in the “Blind Swordswoman, Oichi” series by Shochiku studios from back in 1969. I’d heard of them before… but never manged to find copies readily available for myself. Luckily for me, my loving wife keeps her eyes peeled for the opportunity to snag such things for lil’ ol’ me… she’s not always successful, and I can’t tell you how many times she’s bought a nice lil’ bargain only to discover I’ve long since acquired a copy for myself. Still…. when the price is right… she’s willing to take the risk, and sometimes it pays off. Just like this time ’round. Yay!!
Our film’s synopsis? How’s this grab you: “A young girl Oichi, cruelly abandoned by her mother, is struck by lightning and blinded during a thunderstorm. Alone and unable to care for herself, she is taken in by an old man and raised to womanhood as his own. When her guardian is mysteriously killed by old enemies, she learns the art of swordplay from a traveling “Ronin” so she can travel the lonely roads of old Edo alone to seek both her mother and her revenge.”
Sound a bit like the famous “Zatoichi” movies? Well, that was most definitely the idea when Shochiku decided to create a series of their own to cash in on the success of Daiei Studios successful series featuring Shintaro Katsu as wandering blind masseur, gambler, and swordmaster Zatoichi. Making their lead character a woman only seemed a natural choice to grab some audience at Japanese cinemas.
So… is Oichi up to the task? Can she rival the great Zatoichi in thrills and excitement? Guess you can all find out by continuing to “Read On”…. ;)
Psst! This way for more!
Well… it’s finally here. The Region 2 UK DVD release for the 2013 Vietnamese swordplay adventure “Mỹ Nhân Kế 3D” aka “The Lady Assassin”that I’ve been waiting for anxiously for like what seems forever!! I know this one was supposed to be another “shared review” with Stephen from Gweilo Ramblings but seeing as he’s already covered this one over at the Asian cinema blog Easternkicks.com, I can’t see making him repeat himself all over again so instead I thought I’d go ahead and do one of my own and not bug him again quite so soon. (Pssst! No worries Stephen… we’ll get the chance next month if you like when the Vietnamese horror goodie “House in the Alley” comes out on Region 1 DVD… ;)
Our synopsis for this one goes along these lines: “In the remote Duong Son Tavern, the beautiful and mysterious landlady Kieu Thi along with the help of her three gorgeous hostesses lures weary travelers, bandits and officials into her establishment for what they promise will be an unforgettable time. But rather than selling their bodies, the women rob and murder their guests, hording a growing pile of gold for a rainy day. Their latest haul reveals a coffin which conceals a beautiful young noblewoman – the bound and desperate Linh Lan. She begs them to spare her life and train her in their martial art style, to become an assassin, so she can kill evil general Quan Du, who she claims murdered her family. Kieu Thi agrees, and takes Linh Lan under her wing, but it soon transpires that not everyone at Duong Son Tavern is who they originally claimed to be.”
Pretty Vietnamese girls with deadly Kung Fu skills… plenty of slimy evil bastards that truly need killing… some sweet love and romance for spice… (maybe a little subtle lesbian subtext too if I’ve learned anything about exploitation film-making… )…and… wait for it…. some anachronistic beach volleyball! Yep… seems a certain wannabe Wuxia Princess is gonna have all the bases covered with this one and then some… ;)
Psst! This way for more!
Your Favorite Catgirl’s recent flirtation with all things “Martial Art-y” continues here at the ol’ Litterbox with a review of director Victor Vu’s 2012 swordplay fantasy “Thiên Mệnh Anh Hùng” aka “Blood Letter”. With the recent release of this one on Region 2 DVD over in Germany, unfortunately without those ever so handy English subtitles this wee Catgirl needs, I honestly had begun to despair ever getting a look at it any time soon. But…. the Wuxia Fairies have deigned to smile on a certain wee “Warrior Princess wanabee”, and… thanks to an admittedly suspicious All region, supposedly Chinese made, DVD… that is no longer the case! Yay!! ;)
Our synopsis? How’s about this: “Adapted from a popular novel by Bùi Anh Tấn, the film begins with a dying man delivering a mysterious young boy at the shore of a remote mountain monastery. Scared and alone, the boy grows to manhood under the care and martial arts tutelage of the one lone monk who is the sole caretaker for the lonely remote temple. Twelve years later, Nguyen Vu discovers his true identity, that he is the single living descendant of the nobleman Nguyen Trai, advisor to the late king, who was beheaded, along with the rest of his family, when he was wrongfully implicated in the murder of his liege. Two Eunuchs from the Royal Court learn the truth and when they try to escape are hunted down. One of the eunuchs writes his dying testimony in blood before he dies and this “Blood Letter” then disappears. Nguyen Vu then embarks on a quest to find this letter so that he may clear his grandfather’s name. Along the way he meets two sisters who are also on a quest to carry out vengeance against the Royal Court and the evil Empress Dowager.”
Sounds all epic and “kung-fu-licious”!! Yep… this wee Catgirl’s hooked. But then… your truly is a real Wuxia movie nut… So should this one also be on your “must see” list too? Well… before spending those hours scouring the Internet for a copy of this one, why not let a certain crazy Catgirl tell you all about it first?
Pssst!! That’s your subtle invite to “Read On”…. C’mon… You know ya wanna!! ;)
Whew!! Well it certainly took me long enough to get this one written, but here we go with your Favorite Catgirl’s impressions of the new Chambara drama by cult director Takeshi Miike, “13 Assassins”. Flashing swords, bloody death, and a brave stand of a few brave men against seemingly impossible odds…..
Our synopsis? How about this: “The year is 1844. A vicious nobleman rapes and kills with impunity, shielded from punishment by virtue of his political connections. Although the era of the samurai is fading and coming to an end, one honest government official is still able to enlist the aid of thirteen honorable swordsmen in secrecy. Their mission? Nothing less than to assassinate this sadistic lord whatever the cost, before he can seize even more power and become untouchable…. above anyone’s power to keep in check and a threat that would poison the nation’s very soul. With time running out and against impossible odds, these assassins lay a deadly trap for the lord and his army of bodyguards in a booby-trapped village of death, culminating in one of the bloodiest, muddiest sword-fights ever put to film.”
Sound a bit “Seven Samurai” to you too? Yep… this one seems to want to channel the spirit of that old Kurosawa film and lots of other 70’s Chambara classics. You know the ones… lots of stern faced Japanese guys (and even a few girls..) facing the idea of inescapable death to achieve Honor and restore Justice. There’s something primal and heroic about that…. and it resonates through the Chambara film in a way that only the best Spaghetti Westerns ever seemed to truly understand. Mind you… most of the best of the Spaghetti Westerns were even adapted from these old Japanese swordplay films. But… at their heart, both genres were about staring Death right in the face without flinching and going for it full on… even knowing you probably wouldn’t succeed.
So does this one have the “warrior spirit”? One way to find out, and that’s to follow this crazy Catgirl on a journey to Feudal Japan, where perhaps Death came easy… and life was sometimes cheap… but Honor and Duty were priceless treasures beyond value.