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The Princess Blade (JAPAN 2001)

Director : Shinsuke Sato
Action Director : Donnie Yen
Cast :  Hideaki Ito, Yumiko Shaku, Yoichi Numata, Kyusaka Shimada, Yoko Chosokabe, Yoko Maki and Naomasa Musaka.

Synopsis
In the near future, Japan is ruled once more by a monarchy. But, rebels opposed to this rule seek to overthrow the government. The House of Takemikazuchi, a band of assassins is hired by the government to suppress the rebels. As a conspiracy from within signals the shadowy organization’s impending demise, Yuki, the last of the Takemikazuchi bloodline befriends one of the rebels and seeks revenge against the group’s leader.

Review
by Edward Tang

Here’s a film that shows that even with good fight choreography, the film can still suck on account of plain boredom, and just horrible story telling. Being a fan of Donnie Yen, I do feel that he delivered on the side of action, but everything else in this film needed a tune up. The story was choppy, the acting was over dramatic and dull, and the music got on my last nerve. So does the action save the film? In a small way, it doesn’t make the film horrid to watch, but beware of any scene that isn’t action, it is your basic bore of a story, a bunch of pointless dialog mixed in with unbelievable connections between characters. I can’t recommend this film solely on the purpose, that it didn’t deliver anything to make it stand out. I got bored with this film quick, especially during a sequence in which Takashi and Yuki are chatting about some stupid feelings, something about having a rough life up until this point. I did see where they were going, but it was a hard journey to follow.

The way the story played out was what ruined the film, because it moved slowly and parts of it got confusing. There was a side story between two characters of Takashi and Kidokoro, which was a complete clusterfuck. They would go onto explain things that only the made the experience more tedious. But this thing was cut horribly, and had scenes that made me scratch my head. But most of the story was basic, you have Yuki who escapes her clan of assassins, she gets chased around. She falls into the lap of Takashi who repairs her, then she does battle with and kills her former partners. But then Takashi and his sister get taken out by a reign of bullets by the character of Kidokoro. Why? What the fuck was the point of the move? To give the film an extra dimension, to show that Yuki can’t be around people or they will eventually die? I don’t know, but it made the film harder to through.

But the main point of a film in this genre is to entertain you, and most of the scenes I saw, were attempts at a dramatic side story, rather than a slash-em-up samurai flick. The character of Yuki is played by Yumiko Shaku. She has no appeal whatsoever, and basically show little to no emotion during this role. The fact of the matter is, most of the cast was a typical selection, as nobody raised above the bar of average. But the way the character are developed truly hurt the process of this film. We meet Yuki and right away, she makes a rash decision to leave what she has known her entire life. There is barely a background on the villains, so you can’t really get on her side, I mean I guess they killed her mother, but still. Takashi was played by the ever much an idiot of Hideaki Ito, whom was the same as Yuki. We are given his side story of such, and whatever its point was, is lost because Takashi doesn’t really capture anything.

Amongst the bads, the goods are too small to make this film great. The good equals every fight scene you see on this screen. Donnie Yen has done some good work in the past, and this obviously isn’t his best, but he does show his skills to what saved this film from being on my shitlist (Not a place you want to be). Yen’s fights aren’t horribly brutal, but they are done well enough to give you something to make your heart to an extra jump. One scene in particular was done well enough, the sword through the hand of Yuki to her eventual losing of conscious. But then again! Another cliche that I hate more than anything, the bad guy wastes so much time in killing his/her foe, and would rather lick their face (no making out Lesbian style, but close enough, I’d up it to a perfect score if it was full on action).

But the fight scenes do not make up for the horribly cut and directed mess. You know something? I just found out that this film takes place in the future, no shit? Looking back, you know what graphic they used to show this hopefully distant enough future? An ugly train that goes fast! YIPPEE! There also seemed to be more than enough screaming that just irritated me to the last straw. Especially the scream when Yuki comes to the body of Takashi and his sister! The ending is sheepish, and almost looks like it is open for a sequel. Let us hope that Princess Blade 2 doesn’t premiere, I had enough with the first one.

So is Princess Blade worth watching? Yes and No, it isn’t the worst film out there, and can be enjoyable if you fast forward through all of the crap story and just focus on the action. Aside from the action, this is a very incomplete piece of pizza. Imagine a pizza that only has cheese. No bread, no sauce, just cheese. Cheese is good but can also clog your heart and kill you. Just remember that. If I were you, I’d skip this film and find another film along the lines of Azumi, which has a similar style and is a better film.

Rating
Plot : 2/5
Acting : 2/5
Entertainment : 3/5
Overall : 3/5

Notable Scenes
- The small amount of action scenes in the film.

Buy this movie at YesAsia – The Princess Blade

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