Posted: 12/09/2003


The Princess Blade


by Del Harvey

This DVD is available for purchase at

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Adapted from the manga comic book by director Shinsuke Sato, The Princess Blade is enjoyable and not a little similar to Tarantino’s Kill Bill in theme and basic plot.

The time is roughly 500 years from now. Even though Japan is ruled once again by a monarchy, rebels opposed to this rule seek to overthrow the government. The House of Takemikazuchi, once an honored clan, is now a band of assassins often hired by the government to quash these rebels. As Yuki, one of the young assassins, turns twenty, she discovers a conspiracy from within which could mean the demise of the clan which bears her name. Bent on revenge against the new leader whom she discovers killed her mother, Yuki, last of the Takemikazuchi bloodline, befriends one of these rebels as she exacts her revenge.

This film works not only because it follows a simple logic based on the hero’s journey, but also because the director, Shinsuke Sato, infuses humanity into otherwise two dimensional characters. The result is an action film that is fun to watch and keeps us rooting for our hero, a tough female assassin.

Sato made an interesting decision in keeping the locations in typically idyllic settings: a peaceful forest, a relaxing home, etc. By using these locales, the juxtaposition o fviolent action reduces man’s deeds to their most natural and most base and, thus, their most petty.

The fight scenes, almost all of them utilizing the ubiquitous samurai sword, were choreographed by Asian film star Donnie Yen, who also choreographed the fight scenes in Blade II and Iron Monkey, among other films.

Newcomer and pop idol Yumiko Shaku does a convincing turn as the diminutive Princess Yuki, and comes across as a most capable action queen.

The Princess Blade entertains and engages, and is one Asian actioner worth watching.

Del Harvey is a writer and the founder of Film Monthly, a devout Chicago Bears fan, loves Grant Park in any season, and recently taught screenwriting at Columbia College Chicago.

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