The Princess Blade (2001) Poster

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6/10
Piles on the visual style and avoids in-depth character development. A filmed comic book.
Richard Brunton12 March 2003
This film piles on the visual style and avoids in-depth character development. Now, some may think that this is bad, and can result in a terrible movie. Well, it doesn't. It produces the closet thing I've seen to a filmed comic book, quite literally. Okay, Batman and Spiderman are fantastic film versions of comics, but this is like watching a comic book onscreen, with live action. With some excellent stunts, more human based than those of Crouching Tiger or Matrix, filmed in such a fantastic way, you can't help but be excited by them. The story, however, is a bit weak, and wouldn't warrant another viewing for some time, albeit leaping to the excellent fight scenes and death scenes. However, there is the most realistic death scene I have ever seen before, and also the most emotionally real anguish from an actor I have seen to date. If you are a fan of visually strong movies, with some good fighting action (the assassins use samurai swords, even against guns!) then this is a cracker for you.
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3/10
Slow, sentimentalist and confusing
Jorge TC17 August 2005
As much as I like Japanese movies this one didn't just cut it... A movie that is supposed to be about rebels and the survival of a royal blood line turned out to be a very slow paced movie with a doubtful plot.

The photography is OK, though I've seen much better sword fight scenes in other Japanese movies, the fast cameras and the way they followed the characters didn't convince me at all. The soundtrack is so weak you don't even notice its presence.But worst of all was the way the plot evolved.I have to admit that, at some times, I had a hard time understanding who was who and what was going on...Anyway the platonic love between the main character and another one was completely unnecessary and seemed to come from a Hollywood influence.

All in all, if your looking for an action Japanese movie this isn't it. Its very slow, with very few sword fight scenes and very sentimental... in a bad way...
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8/10
Some very imaginative fight scenes!
luke24 April 2004
I am quite surprised that this hasn't drawn more attention being one of the better asian films I have seen lately. The advert shows the film to be a mere action film while the fight scenes are certainly not every five minutes through out the film however the story is merely a way of taking you from one fight scene to another. The story is about two characters one of which consists of revenge so nothing new there and the other is about a rebel fighter which if more developed could have been a better main story than that of the simple vengance motive. Although the story does not have much to offer I found that I liked the characters all the same as the standard of acting was pretty high and the settings were always impressive including forest and industrial backgrounds. The fight scenes themselves I found to be very creative compared to alot of films with swords much more creative than kill bill with probably quater of the budget. Most films come down to expectations, if you expect some imaginative fight scenes and a slight story inbetween and some lovely back drops then you shouldn't be dissapointed.
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6/10
disappointing
winner556 August 2006
once we accept that the world we're looking at is in an alternative universe that developed along the same lines as our own, the fantasy element of this film is a little easier to bear.

unfortunately, even allowing that, the plotting is just way too heavy-handed and convoluted to be very much fun.

there are a lot of action scenes in this film - choreographed by the great Donnie yen - and for the most part they are well-done and very violent, which suits me fine; but they do have one big problem - Shaku Yumiko as Yuki - she doesn't know how to fight.

being a long sword best used held with both hands, the katana, or samurai sword, requires the body's complete and focused energy. in some styles, you swing it from the hips, in others from the back-bone; but if you have to swing it from the shoulder, you better have strong legs, because that's where the energy is really going to come from. if you swing from the shoulder alone, with no chi flowing from other parts of the body, you might as well be swinging a broom - definitely not the single lethal stroke the katana is designed to accomplish.

well, but that's what she does - she swings her katana from the shoulders. no wonder she gets banged around so much in this movie.

this can't be yen's fault, he's too well versed in traditional fighting techniques; and the other performers do fines. i think we're just stuck here with a young actress who lacks confidence. to some extent, that wouldn't even be her fault. no, it's the casting director, the producer, and the director who must take the blame for this one.

from the synopsis, i was expecting much more; instead, i got much less.

by the way, she doesn't act all that convincingly either.
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Vague convoluted plot, slick action
HappyPlants8 June 2004
Yet another offering from Japanese cinema in which we are treated to briefly exhilarating action sequences punctuating a vague and convoluted plot. Yet even the action never quite delivers. It opens with an impressive assassination, combining clever camera-work with well choreographed well edited moves. Unfortunately, with the exception of a couple of beautiful individual shots, it is a steady decline in quality from this point. The fights become briefer, duller and increasingly difficult to work out what exactly is going on. The plot is generic and the characters utterly two dimensional, while the subplot of the rebel organisation is half hearted. If you want a mindlessly fun, violent flick with big swords, bigger guns, gallons of blood and an absurd plot, rent 'Versus.'
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5/10
Visually Satisfying, Storyline weak
dilbertsuperman18 May 2005
If you are the sort that some action is enough to satisfy you this will be a seven for you. The lead female is very beautiful and athletic however the storyline is bordering on retarded. I would recommend watching this movie just to see the girl swordfight because she's really quite spectacular. However the story is pathetic and the movie can't quite get off the ground because of it. There are some crude heavy handed attempts at character development but they are awkward and sophomoric. The fight scenes are fun but it's obvious the camera tricks were used to cover up the lack of skill of some of the fighters. Yumiko Shaku is a rare gem of a human being, it's a pity her skills and beauty were wasted on this skimpy retarded plot.
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1/10
Not even worth the time it would take to laugh about it.
Minevitch26 March 2008
There is simply no use in trying to glorify any part of this film.

It was straight up trash. At the very beginning you might think that you are in for a visually stunning piece of cinematography... and then shortly thereafter you are hit with a large sack (burlap) of FAIL! The fighting is barely martial, the acting is teetering on the edge of par, and the music is not worth describing. There is only enough of a story to have created an excuse for this film to have been made. The decisions that the characters make and the way that they deal with the situations is weak, and did nothing but frustrate me. I think that the only reason this film came about was to act as a bit of fan service by using Yumiko Shaku.
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7/10
Full of bloody and stylish sword-fights.
BA_Harrison6 June 2006
Not knowing too much about the film before viewing, I popped Princess Blade into the DVD player expecting a lighthearted disposable babes-with-swords action movie and boy was I surprised; instead of a throwaway plot and an emphasis on 'cool' visuals, I got a rather bleak and bloody tale of retribution and the futility of life.

Yuki is a member of the Takemikazuchi clan—killers for hire who work for the reigning monarchy, disposing of any opposition. When she learns that Byakurai, head honcho of the clan, was responsible for the death of her mother, she seeks revenge. After failing to kill Byakurai, she flees the group, hotly pursued by her fellow assassins who see her as a traitor.

Narrowly escaping death by climbing into the back of a passing truck, Yuki is befriended by the driver, a rebel who is part of a terrorist organisation secretly fighting the establishment. The two outcasts grow fond of each other and plan to run away together, but it is not long before both of their pasts catch up with them with tragic results.

With stunning swordplay choreographed by top Hong Kong star Donnie Yen, a decent story and a strong visual style, Princess Blade is an admirable debut from director Shinsuke Sato. Despite a rather slow middle section in which time is taken to try and develop characters and flesh out the sometimes confusing plot, the film never bores, and when Yuki finally gets to exact revenge, she does so in spectacular fashion, chopping, hacking and slicing all those who dare to draw swords against her.

Bloody and brutal, this is definitely worth a watch for fans of the genre.
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6/10
A Good Try
NIXFLIX-DOT-COM31 August 2003
PRINCESS BLADE is a good try, with some good works by the female lead, who is actually quite impressive, perhaps more so because of her size. And yet, the movie isn't overwhelmingly good, with some very spotty sections and a lengthy background story concerning the main male character that manages to bore. Excise the male's story and concentrate just on the fugitive female lead, and PRINCESS BLADE would have seem more focus for it.

As it stands, the film offers a number of exciting sword action, and its anachronistic vibe is nicely done. Although for some reason the filmmakers through in a number of CGI scenes that shows a futuristic landscape.

6 out of 10

(go to www.nixflix.com for a more detailed review of this movie and reviews of other foreign films)
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1/10
Absolutely Disappointing
eleesium12 June 2003
In the recent movement to bring Asian films over to America, this is THE LAST movie that should be released here. Being a big fan of asian movies from all genres, I was browsing the net and came across this soong to be re-released into the US market so I decided to check it out ahead of time and rent this at a local video store.

Trust me...the action scenes are incredibly disappointing, Crouching Tiger and Iron Monkey completely blew this movie out of the water. Jet Li would fall asleep watching the fighting sequences. If you're looking for martial arts entertainment, your time would be better off with a Jackie Chan flick!!!

Moreover...you think you're going to watch a martial arts with about a girl engulfed in vengence for her parents death BUT SURPRISE!!! A good hour of this movie in the middle has is filled with dialogue, an absense of action, the lack of devloping a tangent plot, pretty much NOTHING to do with the premise we are exposed to. It has more to do with the relationship between her and the boy, and the boy with his conspiracy group in which the producer/director dedicated no time in elbaorating, and yet dedicated a portion of the film dragging the issue. Would of been much better off if they had just cut that whole hour and developed the story in itself through another film and focus on the martial arts aspect.

Speaking of which, I really don't believe the choreographer of Iron Monkey, did the action sequence in Princess Blade. I was completely insulted in the frequent usage of slow motion and quick camera changes to portray the assassins physical swiftness. I just didn't buy it.

Please...I'm warning you to PLEASE do not waste your time/money with this movie. The premise is intrigueing, and the trailer might even tempt you but I am positive that this movie is NOT suited for the public (maybe in Japan but not in the states) and will be the worst film brought over to the states from the Asian film industry.
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1/10
I kept hoping for it to end
Gpallen17 September 2004
I registered for IMDb just to comment on this movie.

I just got done sitting through this movie, and the only thing that impressed me, was that I somehow had the will power to not stop it.

I've seen a pretty decent number of action movies and what not, but Princess Blade has some of the worst fights I've ever seen in a movie. Most of the sword fighting involves mindlessly swinging the swords back and fourth and hoping the opponent isn't doing the same. I've seen a good many student films with better action and stronger plots.

So now we have a "futuristic" action movie with poor action, and virtually no sign of the future.

Most of the movie doesn't even have any action and shows the developing relationship with the Princess and the farmboy/terrorist and his disturbed sister. The movie has multiple plot lines, and none of them really pan out to be worth anything.

Part of the problem may have been that I watched the dub, which was quite bad. The entire cast mumbled all their lines so it was hard to follow what was going on. But I got the general idea. (Knowing exactly what was said would not have saved the movie in my eyes)

If you've heard about this being a futuristic action/ninja flick, then you've heard wrong. Thats what I thought it was when I heard about it, and now I've lost 90 minutes of my life. Don't let this happen to you. Steer well clear of it.
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Simply totally redundant
PlanecrazyIkarus19 January 2003
Judging by some of the comments in IMDB, I was expecting an action movie - perhaps a dramatic one or a stupid one or a simple one or a comicy one, but essentially an action movie.

Whatever it is that I watched, it certainly didn't feel like a movie. The story is simple and straightforward (even though the prologue tries to make it seem complicated). Take three interest groups: 1) the government 2) the rebels 3) a group of assassins.

Now subtract the first (they never appear in the movie). Then simply let one of the assassins, the princess, become a rogue on a revenge trip. Add in a rebel love-interest with a guilty conscience. And you've got the ingredients.

But they still did not manage to turn it into a story or a movie. Between some random action sequences and some odd visuals trying to be Sci-Fi on a low budget, what you're left with is a feeling of emptiness. The movie just does not feel like a movie, but a weird, incoherent, boring dream.

Avoid.

2/10
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4/10
Not to talkative
Gold_Fish25 December 2005
I've seen the movie only recently, although it appeared in 2001. I hoped to see an entertaining movie, but let me tell you, Princess Blade is nothing compared to Azumi. The "princess" is not very talkative, as you may have noticed... She reminded me of Jean Claude Van Damme, who only stared to make his point, then beat the crap out of the opponents. During the entire movie, I waited to hear at least a confession about what she liked, why was she fighting, who did she love and trust. I waited in vain. Crappy movie. Crappy dialog. Don't watch it unless you want to be bored out of your minds! It's so bad, that in the end I was wondering how I managed not to scream in frustration 1 and a half hour. Approximately. I give a 4/10.
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can't decide what it wants to be.
Art Tizon5 December 2004
Based on "Lady Snowblood". Sort of a prequel, sequel, and remake at once. It is a good film in the end. Hoowever, some of th plots are just not explained and make us wonder why they were even thrown in. What was with that farmboy? Anyway, it takes place far in the future. We find Yuki (who was previously left somewhere in the Meji Restoration killing her smallpox-infected boyfriend with a short sword) in a group of samurai assassins, still a beautiful young woman. At twenty, she discovers that her employer was the one who led the brutal attack on her royal parents and made the purpose of her birth. She tries to kill him, but he is too powerful, and she runs out to a farm and meets a farmboy. He has a strange, mute sister and a past involving terrorism or something like that. Before long, the assassins start coming, so she must destroy them and finalize the revenge that she started in the previous two films. I recommend this. On first viewing, I hated it. On second, I loved it. Avoid the dubbed version, it is horrible. My complaints are the plot holes and her screams whenever she runs that really get quite irritating after a while. Still- 3 1/2 out of 5.
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7/10
Good elements, but disjointed
Nogami16 July 2004
Princess Blade had some good elements - the main character isn't the typical one-woman wrecking machine (like Uma in Kill Bill for example) and the element of vulnerability that it adds definitely makes the fight scenes better and more suspenseful. She can be injured and hurt - having a main character that isn't necessarily guaranteed an easy win without a scratch is good!

The subplot however, with Takashi and his sister is fairly weak. It gives the character some depth, but isn't really utilized in an effective way. The ending feels like the writers are jerking the audience around a bit.

I imagine many viewers will be left a bit disappointed as the credits roll. The movie has an "unfinished feel" to it and the ending feels about 15 minutes premature - I would've liked to see a bit more closure. As another reviewer mentioned, they probably left the end open to provide the basis for a sequel, however it's not very satisfying.

Worth a rental? Sure. Worth a buy? Not really.
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A passable futuristic swordplay actioner.
Marc Ferriere15 February 2004
Apparently, movies of this type are reviewed with unrealistic expectations. They need to be viewed for what they are: action films. You need not expect weighty plot, character development, or over-the-top effects. You need only expect to be entertained and taken to another place for 95 minutes. This movie succeeds in that mission quite adequately.

I'm usually a harsh critic of Japanese filmmaking for it's amateurish look, but this movie proves that even indie films in Asia are approaching the level of fit and finish that we've come to expect from their other manufactured products. I was amazed at how gritty and realistic that the effects were (especially the scene early where Yuki dodges a hail of gunfire). It goes to prove that you don't need Matrix-esque delusions of grandure to pull off good action films.

The film also boasts a very natural look with the requisite forest and lake scenes that would have been a great fit in any RPG. You'll also love the awesome retro decor of Takashi's awesome frontier gas station (shades of Road Warrior came to mind here).

The Matrix comparisons stop at the wardrobe department. Actually, I found myself frequently thinking of Jean-Claude Van Damme's "Cyborg" when watching this movie. The kind of schtick: set up a big political/social frame which you don't even attempt to explain, and then hang all of your subsequent action around it.

It should also be noted that any Japanese movie which doesn't resort to a giant monster/creature/mutation destroying everything as an "ending" should be applauded. No tentacle rapes, vampires, zombies, or psychic powers rear their ugly heads to ruin the day either!!!

All of that said, it's a cool movie that doesn't necessarily break any ground, but certainly doesn't deserve the 2/10 that someone gave it here. The movie doesn't pretend to be anything but a cool movie. I only ask you contrast that mentality with a movie like "Battlefield Earth" which tried to "say something". Think about it. 7/10 Stars.
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Stylish
Anssi Vartiainen23 February 2016
In the post-apocalyptic future the former guardians of the emperor have become a clan of assassins. But now their princess has departed from their ranks after finding out that the steward of the clan does not have her best interests in mind. And now she must flee from them all. The assassins, the government, the everyday people.

The Princess Blade is based on the manga Lady Snowblood by Kazuo Koike and Kazuo Kamimura, and it is very much style over substance. But it is good style. The opening fight pretty much sets the tone for the entire film. If you're not hooked after it, you can safely turn the TV off or look for something else to watch. The film is barely nothing more than one big katana fight after another, with crazy stunts, back flips, lots of swords doing that drawing sound they never do in real life, cool poses and people getting cut down.

Though to be fair, the story isn't all that bad. It just isn't focused on enough. The Princess Yuki (Yumiko Shaku) flees from everything she has ever known and meets Takashi (Hideaki Ito) a rebel against the government, being forced to hide in his home. Both Shaku and Ito are good actors and have genuine chemistry together. It's just that aside from the action scenes, the movie is pretty hard to follow. People have conversations together, but none of the scenes connect with one another and in the end you're not really sure what this all means for the characters and the world they live in.

There are also some rather strange touches and details in the story, but I blame the fact that they were adapting a manga series for those. Such details can always seem strange and superfluous if you're not careful about which scenes to add and which to leave out.

All in all, The Princess Blade is worth a watch if you'd like to see a kung fu action film that takes place in the post-apocalyptic future. Its story is not terribly exciting, but the action scenes are good enough for you to enjoy the film as a whole.
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6/10
Sketch of post Apocalyptic Japan
ebiros230 June 2009
The interest of this movie was two fold for the Japanese. First they wanted to see good fight scenes, two the movie explored what post apocalyptic world would look like in Japan. For this reason, the movie lacks universal appeal as it deals with lores (For instance, Takemikazuchi is a name of ancient god that appears in Japanese history) and interest that have meaning only to the people living in Japan.

This is the movie that catapulted the career of actor Yumiko Shaku. She has a nack for sci-fi movies, which is rare for a female actor. So the movie did make some impact on the audiences in Japan.

Where this movie failed was they didn't have good actors playing the antagonists, and because of this, many fight scenes became who cares if these guys lives or dies. Supporting casts are pretty non descript also, and didn't make the story interesting. Only one who conveyed realism was Yumiko Shaku, and probably that's why she's still in demand, whereas the others just faded away.

I also didn't care much for Donny Yuen's fight choreography. His purely physical action works for him, but it's rather dry when others tries to do the same.

So this movie ultimately boils down to Yumiko Shaku. Watch it if you're her fan.
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5/10
Overall quite entertaining
Atavisten28 May 2005
Sometime in the near future we meet Yukihime and follows her on a vendetta against the killer of her mother which happens to be her present boss. What follows is a lot of sword fighting Hong Kong style with lots of invisible wires and tough situations and this is the sole reason to watch this movie. Its actors are not very talented, but their roles are flat enough for it to not matter. Yukihime herself is played by Shaku Yumiko who looks most like an JPOP-idoru, but really is OK. Amazing what editing can do. Backdrops of green covered mountains in blue mist and even some futuristic cgi is very good looking. Melodrama and bad music takes some away from the experience.
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7/10
Surprisingly different
Enchorde10 October 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Reacap: In a near future Japan, the feared Takemikazuchi-clan act as assassins only. With no regard or concern, if you pay - they kill. Interestingly, in a world were guns and rifles rule, they still use their swords and skills in martial arts. One young member of this clan is young Yuki, about to turn twenty. One night she is sent to hunt down a former clan-member that decided to run. The clan regards any member that leaves them as a traitor that must be killed. On this mission Yuki meets Kuka, who reveals the secret she is living. Her mother was the former leader of the clan, but the present leader Byakurai murdered her. Yuki now challenges Byakurai, but fails and flee. Now she is the target of her clan.

Comments: In my opinion this differs a bit from other Japanese action (samurai or ninja) movies. This movie is almost subdued, especially compared to many other such movies where the dialog is screamed, overacting the common practice and 10 meter jumps natural. This is nothing like that. Instead, the dialog is almost quiet, the colors are dark and grey is very prominent. The lead character, Yuki, is very withdrawn. The fencing and fighting is not subdued though, and this is the one place were Yuki excels. If you like Japanese fencing, you will surely enjoy these.

Unfortunately this movie lacks in some other areas. It is supposedly set in a futuristic Japan, ruled by a monarchy. But this is mostly just alluded to and not really explained or used. Yuki meets Takashi, who evidently is in the middle of a rebelling terrorist-group, but this is also not a prominent feature in the story. Surprisingly it is introduced into the move, and some controversy within the group is shown. But the sub-plot is never really used or developed, it's seems just to be a way to pass time. But it is important to the ending, and therefore it is a little surprising it is not shown more, and frankly it is a little confusing. The movie is not that long, and the time could easily been taken to develop this plot, and weave it into the main plot with Yuki (as it alludes that it is connected to it). That effort would have been very welcome, and should have been great for the movie.

As it is

7/10
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5/10
5/10 is just right
Murphy27 January 2005
I bought this movie without reading anything about it- a mistake on my part. Don't misunderstand me, it isn't a bad movie. It's just that it's more of a rental than a purchase. I wish I had known this before I picked it up last night.

The action here was astounding. It's some of the best I've seen in a while, and probably the best I've seen without obvious wire work. It's not violent, which works here.

Where this movie fails, I think, is in the plot. It is simple, easy to understand, but it isn't really complete. The middle section of the movie is especially slow, but there are a couple of high points- I found it a bit funny when the guy attempted to feed Yuki the bugs, and the part where Yuki helped him move all the stuff (except for that one barrel) I enjoyed.

I must admit, however, that the last half hour of the film almost made me forget how little I enjoyed the middle part. The first and third acts were astounding, but the second act... Meh.

Overall, I'd say that this movie is for people who are fans of this genre, but only as a rental. 5/10.
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Great first half of a movie, and then...
rickrudge30 May 2003
I had an opportunity to see this film at a Portland (Oregon) Film Center special event. Unfortunately they were having technical difficulties with the Dolby audio and we were given tickets for a showing later that weekend. The early parts of the movie that I saw were very impressive. The action sequences (by noted Kung Fu movie choreographer, Donnie Yen) were good enough to make me rent "Iron Monkey" before going home that night. The movie, "Shurayuki-Hime" or "Princess Blade" (yes, it's a remake) is set some time in the near post apocalyptic future. I loved the flaming begining titles. The emperor has stepped down and the Japanese society has closed itself off from the world. Pandemonium reigns supreme. Yumiko Shaku plays a young sword wielding assassin named Yuki, a modern day Ronin; killing for whoever pays for it. After killing off an escaping member of her gang she meets up with an old man from her past that tells her that her boss had actually killed her mother. She is the last of her Takemikazuchi clan and should leave. Yuki goes back and confronts the boss, confirming that he had killed her mother, fights, and runs away herself when she finds out that what the old man told her was true. In her escape, Yuki hops onto the back of a moving truck driven by a young man who has secrets of his own. He's some kind of hacker living inside of a gas station out in the country with his sister. Soon Yuki and the young man grow closer. They even contemplate running away together, but both of their pasts come back to haunt them. This was a well made movie. The first half was very stylized, but the second half of the movie began to get muddled. I know that I may be ethnocentric and am used to American-made movies, or at least the older Samurai movies of 60s. After the second half of "Princess Blade", I wasn't sure what it wanted to be. Did it want to be a sensitive, romantic "chick flick", an action picture, a Samurai revenge picture, or science fiction movie? They were all over the genre map. Again, I'm probably just culturally conditioned wrong for this movie. Perhaps they simply ran out of money before filming the end of the picture. I liked it enough to recommend it generally. It's very enjoyable with some great action sequences. Somehow, I think that they could have done better had they kept up the momentum.
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Missed Opportunity...
jmaruyama29 September 2002
Sato, Shinsuke's SHURAYUKI HIME (aka Princess Blade) is standard action fare, with an interesting style and look but ultimately weak story and even weaker characterization. Very loosely based on the 1973 Manga and Movie Shurayuki Hime aka `LADY SNOWBLOOD' (starring the stunning Kaji, Meiko) by Kozurei Okami `LONE WOLF & CUB/BABYCART' creator Koike, Kazo, SHURAYUKI HIME is an updated, retelling of the story with a plucky heroine in the form of Yuki (Shaku, Yumiko) who is part of a line of assassins serving a future monarchy in a decimated Japan of tomorrow.

However, Yuki rebels against her masters and is soon hunted by her former associates. During the course of her battles she meets up with Takashi, a young mechanic who also happens to be part of a rebel movement seeking the overthrow of the monarchy.

Strangely similar to James Cameron's TV Series "DARK ANGEL", SHURAYUKI HIME benefits from impressive CGI effects and stunning action sequences provided complements of the inventive choreography work of Hong Kong action star Donnie Yen. Yet in spite of these, SHURAYUKI HIME is a somewhat boring affair whose pacing meanders and lags at times.

Shaku is no Kaji but she sufficiently elicits the necessary audience sympathy called of her.

It is unfortunate that Sato doesn't focus on the interesting world of which Yuki lives in. So much potential could have been taken from exploring the political and social aspects of this weird neo-Bakufu world of Japan and its clashing Clans.

Not as good as the original, SHURAYUKI HIME is a good enough action film but misses many opportunities at transcending the genre.
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7/10
Is it a remake of Lady Snowblood or Cyborg?
AwesomeWolf17 February 2005
Version: Eastern Eye's R4 DVD - Japanese with English subtitles

I picked up 'Princess Blade' having heard that it was a remake of 'Lady Snowblood', but with a different take on the story. Also, it had 9 swords on the cover alone. That was very promising. It eventually turned it out to be remake of 'Lady Snowblood', but with the feel of Jean Claude Van Damme's 'Cyborg'. Nothing to be disappointed about, I enjoyed 'Cyborg' and I enjoyed 'Princess Blade' even more so.

In a future where Japan has seemingly suffered from war, and reverted back to a ruling monarchy without any democratic parliament, the government has hired a clan of assassins, known as the House of Takemikazuchi, to put down a rebellion. Yuki (Yumiko Shaku) is Takemikazuchi royalty, but not yet old enough to take her place as Princess Yuki of the House of Takemikazuchi. Only a few minutes into the movie Yuki discovers that Byakurai (Kyusaku Shimada), the current leader of the House of Takemikazuchi, took his place by murdering Yuki's mother, and so she must leave the group and reap vengeance. Awesome?

It sounds awesome, but not as action-packed as I had assumed. I thought that Yuki would have spent most of the movie reaping vengeance, much like 'Lady Snowblood', or Ryuhei Kitamura's more recent 'Azumi'. Despite the lack of constant reaping of vengeance, I was still able to enjoy this. There are long periods of non-action (most people refer to this as 'drama'), in which the movie explores themes that were also found in 'Lady Snowblood'. Yuki and Takashi are haunted by fates they think are beyond their control, when they always have a choice. If they did not have their love for each other, they would not have their love for each other. Even I have to agree that these themes are more important to the movie than Yuki reaping her vengeance.

I do not believe I just wrote that. There are some nice action scenes in 'Princess Blade', even if it occasionally looked like Yuki and Byakurai were flailing their swords around wildly rather than actually fighting. Hong Kong martial-arts movie legend Donnie Yen was the action-choreographer for this movie, and although he did a pretty good job, I think that in between this and directing 'Protege de la Rose Noire', he may have lost his awesome-touch from his earlier work. It is an enjoyable action movie, but far from being one of the best action movies I've ever seen.

Overall, 'Princess Blade' is an enjoyable movie. I would recommend it to fans of 'Lady Snowblood' and 'Azumi', even though both are better movies - 7/10
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