The Princess Blade (2001)
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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...
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.
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.
Yuki is a member of the Takemikazuchi clankillers 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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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