Lady Snowblood 2: Love Song of Vengeance (1974)

Given that Lady Snowblood was such an influence on Kill Bill, Vol. 1, I was a bit afraid that the sequel was going to be like Vol. 2.  I prepared myself for an overlong film full of talk without any action.  Happily, although it is nowhere near as exciting, stylistic or fresh as the first movie, the sequel is still quite watchable.

In 1906 Yuki (Meiko Kaji) is captured by the police, but is freed on the day she is scheduled to hang by Kikui (Shin Kishida), the head of the Imperial Secret Police.  In exchange for her freedom she is to pose as a maid and spy on an anarchist agitator named Ransui Tokunaga (Juzo Itami) who happens to have a top-secret document they want back.  Tokunaga soon figures out who she is and why she is there, but convinces her to fight on his side. When Ransui is captured Yuki is tasked with taking the document to his brother Shusuke (Yoshio Harada).  Eventually Lady Snowblood and Shusuke must fight against the corrupt elements of the Meiji Empire. 

While there are some of the familiar exaggerated showers of blood toward the end of the movie, most of this is reserved and tame in comparison to the first.  Toshiya Fujita is directing once again, and visually the movie is still quite striking.  The problem is that Lady Snowblood, though the star of the show, spends way too much time nursing wounds instead of causing them.  The political intrigue is interesting at times, particularly since there needed to be some reason to bring her back after she finished the job she was tasked with in the first film. 

Kikui has the makings for a good villain, but it never really materializes, and it doesn't hurt that there is both a corrupt police chief and Minister of Justice thrown into the mix to take even more time away from him.  On top of that are family squabbles between Ransui and Shusuke that, in the end, is superfluous backstory.  Meiko Kaji still plays the role well, but, again, she needed to be up and about doing some slicing and dicing. 

That said, it's not a bad sequel, but there is nothing essential that happens to carry on the story from the first film.  It could have gone even further over the top than the first one did, and in that it is a huge missed opportunity.  The first movie runs its course and allows Yuki to achieve all of her goals, leaving her pondering what's next when she unexpectedly lives through the ordeal.  I guess what's next was about seven or eight years of adventures as a hired assassin, none of which, unfortunately for the time invested in the movie, we get to see. 

Lady Snowblood 2: Love Song of Vengeance (1974)
Time: 89 minutes
Starring: Meiko Kaji, Juzo Itami, Yoshio Harada, Shin Kishida
Director: Toshiya Fujita



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