Sleepy Eyes of Death: Hell Is a Woman (1968) Poster

User Reviews

Review this title
2 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
One of the best Nemuri Kyoshiros!
chaos-rampant24 October 2009
This may very well be the best Nemuri Kyoshiro I've seen to date. It's hard to tell them apart, even the good from the bad, because there's little difference or variation in themes and style from one to the next, but A Ronin Called Nemuri stands out even among those entries by Kenji Misumi and Kazuo Ikehiro. For its accomplished directing by Tokuzo Tanaka, for its beautiful visual set-pieces, for its gruelling swordfights in dimly lit woods and snow-covered streets, this in itself a staple of 60's chambara and while the movie never quite transcends the Daiei b-chambara limitations, it works brilliantly within them, from a convoluted script about two chamberlains and their armed factions vying with each other for control of the Saeki clan while Nemuri has stumbled into some sort of conspiracy and has to fight assassins around every corner, all these somehow coming together in the end to offer even a touch of poignant emotion as a son straggles to kill his already dead father. Make no mistake though; the movie is still cold and ruthless as Nemuri Kyoshiro films usually are and don't we love it for just that? For Raizo Ichikawa's cold and alienated badass, here looking paler than ever, and the way he remains a selfserving cynical bastard even when he does the right thing.
5 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Tenth Entry Goes Into Yojimbo Territory
jrd_7320 September 2018
Hell Is a Woman, the tenth installment in the series, is like the previous entry, above average samurai film entertainment. The film is entertaining throughout but has in particular one amazing sequence.

The plot is an interesting variation on Yojimbo. Two retainers are fighting over the leadership of a clan as their leader lies ill. Ronin flood the area looking to make money by being hired by one side or the other. Nemuri wants nothing to do with either side. Both confirm his belief in the self serving quality of those who hide behind phrases like "for the good of the clan." Rather, Nemuri is interested in keeping a promise to a traveling performer, a young woman, who he unintentionally set up to be killed through a thoughtless gesture, a joke really. The woman has a brother seeking vengeance on their father. Nemuri is trying to keep son from murdering father, but how can he find the brother with all the ronin in the area?

The Sleepy Eyes of Death films always include a rival swordsman. In the case of Hell Is a Woman, there are two, both memorable. One is young, stoic, and mysterious. The other is older, boisterous, and something of a drunk. Both are expert killers. The latter is scheming for a big pay day and Nemuri is going to help him get it. As Nemuri's infamy rises with the people he kills, the more money the leaders are paying to have him killed. Both leaders believe Nemuri has joined the other side and want him dead. In fact, Nemuri belongs to neither group. Not even the honest princess who wants to be by her father's side can raise much sympathy for Nemuri. He avoids all clan skulduggery (as the subtitles put it).

Hell Is a Woman is quickly paced, has some good swordplay, enough complications to keep the viewer more than interested, and some nice photography. In fact, one of the praiseworthy traits of all of the Sleeping Eyes of Death films is their professionalism. The world they create, grim as it may be, looks aesthetically inviting. Finally, Hell Is a Woman has a scene that is one of the best in the entire series. It takes place in dark woods at night inside of a lone shack that houses an old woman and a blind woman. The mysterious mood conjured up feels like it belongs in a horror film. The color photography is reminiscent of Mario Bava's Black Sabbath. One expects the old woman's head to fly off and attack Nemuri. It doesn't, but something else happens almost as thrilling. The end result is an eerie standalone sequence that the viewer remembers long after the film is over.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews

Recently Viewed