Lady Snowblood (Shurayukihime) is a full-length Japanese movie that was released in 1973. The movie was directed by Toshiya Fujita, who directed 29 films in his lifetime. He is most well-known, however, for Lady Snowblood and its sequel, Lady Snowblood 2: Love Song of Vengeance, which was released the year after Lady Snowblood was. The movie was created because of a popular manga, called Lady Snowblood, which was released in 1972. It has spawned not only a sequel, but a remake as well that was produced in 2001. It is also considered to be Quentin Tarantino’s inspiration for parts of his hugely successful movie, Kill Bill.
Lady Snowbird is the story of a woman set on vengeance. As the movie begins, the audience sees a teacher dressed in white named Kashima, his wife Sayo, and their young son Shiro. At this point in Japan’s history, any man who wore white could be easily mistaken for a tax man, and was often killed by bandits who were after the money that they carried. Because Kashima was wearing white, he and his family is set upon by bandits. Sayo is held captive while her son and husband are murdered, and they kidnap, rape and savagely beat Sayo for a length of time. One of the bandits, Shokei Tokuichi, eventually sneaks Sayo away from the rest of the bandits so that he can put her to work, but she manages to kill him and gets caught and tried for it. In a woman’s prison, she has sex with the prison guards in order to get pregnant. Sayo explains that she hopes to conceive a son that will be able to take vengeance for her murdered family.
Sayo does have a child, but it is not the boy she hoped for. Instead, Sayo has a daughter. She names her Yuki and, before she dies from hemorrhaging, asks that her friends in prison raise her daughter strongly, so that she will be able to take revenge on those that deserve it. Yuki is raised in prison for six years before she is brought to a priest named Dōkai. He raises her and trains her to fight. She hones her skills so that one day, she will be able to do as her mother desired. It is not until she turns twenty that she heads out to kill the bandits.
Yuki first goes for Takemura Banzō. She ends up saving his life only to confront and kill him. She then discovers that one of the bandits, Tsukamoto, has, much to her dismay, died of natural causes. She eventually meets a reporter named Ryūrei Ashio. He helps her lure Kitahama Okono out of hiding so that Yuki can kill her, but her revenge is denied when Okono commits suicide instead.
Yuki has a much bigger challenge to undertake, though, when she and Ashio become close and she discovers that one of the men she is bound to kill is Ashio’s father. She has to make difficult decisions which alter the life of everyone around her.