A beautiful young martial arts expert stops a vicious street gang from robbing her grandparents' house. The gang marks her for murder, but her grandparents are killed instead. The girl sets out to take her revenge on the gang.
When I started the film, I was lured in by its bleak narrative and erotic imagery. If it weren't for the language, Belladonna would be unrecognizable as anime, with its realistic proportions, faded colors, sexual themes, and psychedelic imagery/soundtrack. I quickly emphasized with our lead's suffering, and the allure of Satan himself when all joy and hope is dead.
Unfortunately, while the initial premise was fascinating and sensual, Belladonna lacks the depth to make it a masterpiece. There is no real development. There are no likable characters. Jean doesn't ascend from her demons. Her downfall isn't particularly evocative. Its half emotional torture porn, half stoner fuel.
The animation is also kind of bad. Heck, most of the time, you're only given stills. Some shots are beautiful, but others seem very cheap. Others are nonsensical, immature pieces of graffiti that somehow snuck into an art film.
Belladonna seems disjointed between two opposite demographics and isn't good enough for either one. I wish someone could do this story better justice. But it was an interesting movie, especially for its time. Because of a few scenes and overall unique place in animation, I'd recommend it to those who are into more "art house" film. I wouldn't to those who want strong character and narrative.
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