Blind Woman’s Curse Blu-Ray Review
Blu-Ray Review- Blind Woman’s Curse
Distributor: Arrow Video (Region B/2)
Street Date: March 31st 2014
Technical Specifications: 1080P Video, Japanese Mono 2.0 PCM, Color, 2.44:1 Aspect Ratio
Runtime: 85 Minutes
Teruo Ishii’s Blind Woman’s Curse is a bizarre and highly entertaining mix of samurai films and traditional Japanese ghost stories. Having seen this and Lady Snowblood after the fact, it’s very clear that Director Quentin Tarantino paid homage to these violent yet strangely beautiful films from the Nikkatsu and Toho catalogs with his Kill Bill series.
In the beginning of the film we meet Akemi (Meiko Kaji), leader of the Tachibana yakuza clan, as she leads her fellow dragon tattooed warriors against a rival gang. This sequence is one of the most beautiful battle scenes I have encountered, with a mix of fast action and slow motion camera techniques capturing the dueling samurai swords clashing in the rain. The showdown comes to a screeching halt with Akemi blinding the brother of the rival gang’s leader, Boss Goda. A black cat licks the blood from the injured girls face, growling and staring at Akema as she becomes cursed for what she has done.
We follow Akemi to her prison experience some time later, as she tells her story to fellow female inmates. The blind girl and black cat are giving her nightmares, and she knows revenge will soon follow. Cut to three years later, the local villages are in a state of unrest as the rival gang war over territory reaches a new peak. The blind woman slowly begins to exact her revenge on Akemi’s gang, skinning the dragon tattoo’s from their backs one-by-one.
Director Ishii’s film is heavy on style and mood, but has a sense of humor about the story at hand as well, as evidence by some of the outrageous facial expressions left on the blind woman’s victims. The female characters are very strong in this, with some of the male roles left solely for comic relief. This is a welcome gender role change from other Japanese films that proceeded Blind Woman’s Curse, helping to usher in a new era in cult cinema’s tough women.
The climactic showdown between Akemi and the blind woman is skillfully done and a treat for genre fans. This movie is a lot of fun, everything from the sincere performances, light comedic moments, matte painting backgrounds, set design, and musical score creates a mood that is undeniably cult and consistently entertaining.
Arrow Video has breathed new life into this 1970 cult-classic with a 1080P transfer that retains the look of the time period, yet graces us with a remastered image that looks great on a High Definition screen. Colors are authentic and bold, from the slightly blue hue of the timing to the bright red blood spraying on the walls, there is a balance here that looks marvelous. There is some minor print damage in some scenes including scratches and “pops”, but it’s never distracting and adds to the cult atmosphere. Detail is crystal clear in most scenes, particularly close-up shots of the main cast. I also didn’t detect any digital noise reduction or edge enhancement on the transfer, which is always a bonus for those of us that appreciate the original intended look of the film. This is yet another standout transfer from Arrow.
The uncompressed Mono PCM audio track included here is surprisingly powerful, even though it doesn’t have the dynamic range of HD 5.1. Dialogue is supported very well, as are the incredible action scenes. There is a respectable balance to the audio that Arrow provided, and it absolutely sounds authentic to the time period of the film. Swords clang and clash, blood squirts, flesh peals, there’s a little bit of everything to find safely balanced on this track. Well done.
Arrow Video has included some decent bonus content here, but fans of the UK distributor don’t get quite as much as we usually do from their other catalog releases. Nevertheless, the Audio Commentary alone is extremely informative and easy to listen to. Here’s a breakdown of what’s included:
- Audio Commentary by Japanese Cinema Expert Jasper Sharp– Truly an expert on the genre and time period for Japanese cinema, Jasper is easy to listen to and extremely informative.
- Original Theatrical Trailer– This is a short but fun trailer for the film that originally played in front of Japanese audiences in 1970.
- Stray Cat Rock Trailer Series – Four trailers for Nikkatsu studio films also starring Meiko Kaji.
As you can see from the “Unboxing” pictures below, this Blu-Ray edition from Arrow Video features some spectacular cover art featuring Meiko Kaji and her dragon tattoo. You also have the option of reversing the sleeve for alternate art as well. The included Blu-Ray and DVD discs also feature some nice art with a blood-red color scheme. You will also find a very detailed booklet with behind-the-scenes photographs and an essay by Tom Mes, as well advertisements for other Arrow titles such as The Beast Within.
Blind Woman’s Curse is an enormously entertaining cult mix of Japanese samurai, yakuza, and traditional ghost stories. With an odd but fascinating mix of drama, action, and dark comedy, there is a little something for everyone in this film. The transfer and audio from Arrow Video is top notch, but slightly lacking on bonus features. I’m amazed that this movie evaded me for so long, and the release from Arrow is an absolute treat to add to the collection. Highly recommended.