Princess Blade
Shurayuki hime
review by Carrie Gorringe, 21 June 2002

28th Seattle International Film Festival

Once upon a time, there was a group of noble guards called the Takemikasuchi, who after they were sent into exile by a political coup, became assassins. Shinsute Sako's film, Princess Blade (Shura Yukihime) takes this premise and runs it through a different variation of the chop-socky genre. Yuki, the film's heroine, is, one might say, lethally loyal to the clan, (this is a good thing, because, like the Mafia, the Takemikasuchi don't believe in voluntary retirement), which is currently headed by a sinister figure named Byakurai. One day, while hunting down a "traitor," Yuki comes across yet another one, a man who was a servant to her mother. From him, she learns that, not only is she a princess and the only one with legitimate rights to lead the Takemikasuchi, but that Byakuri tortured her mother to death. On the verge of turning twenty years old (the age at which all clan Princesses are crowned), Yuki must make a decision: should she fight for the leadership of the clan, or go into hiding in an attempt to avoid Byakuri's wrath? While on the run from one of Byakurai's assassination attempts, Yuki encounters, and takes refuge with, a young man and his traumatized sister.

Unbeknownst to Yuki, his home is no real sanctuary; the young man, in turn, is in thrall to his own need to find peace and happiness at any cost, to the extent of placing his own faith in yet another sinister member of authority. Of course, since she's a royal assassin (not just some mere peasant), it's obvious that she will be able to kick at least five times more ass than anyone else in the story, so that gives her, well, a fighting chance. Whether or not she can save her newfound friends is another matter.

Sako's film is chock-full of visually masterful set pieces, thanks to legendary fight choreographer Donnie Yen (Iron Monkey), but, as might be expected, rather light on plot and expository information. The audience never learns much about the young man or the connection to the political machinations in which he has become involved; we're to assume that his idealism, coupled with weary cowardice, has rendered him useless in the fight against potential dictatorships. After a while, the extreme contrast between skilful fighting and moral weakness stretches the film's credibility thin. It's best to concentrate upon the action and less upon the plot.

Seattle International Film Festival Coverage:



Directed by:
Sato Shinsuke

Hideaki Ito
Yumiko Shaku
Shiro Sano

NR - Not Rated.
This film has not yet
been rated.





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