“When we kill, our faces resemble demons.” – Akemi Tachibana
Making its Blu-Ray debut in North America on March 24th from Arrow Video, comes ‘Blind Woman’s Curse,’ directed by Teruo Ishii (Horror of a Deformed Man, Blind Beast vs. Dwarf) notorious for his ero-guro films.
The film is really a story about redemption for the lead character, Akemi Tachibana (Meiko Kaji), leader of the Tachibana Yakuza Clan, who by an errant slash of her sword, blinds the innocent Aiko Gouda (Hoki Tokuda). Akemi’s torment is visited upon her by the black cat that lapped up the blood from the victim, showing her terrible visions. In turn, Aiko, who is herself an accomplished swordsman, is out for revenge against Akemi, aligning with the rival Aozora Clan. Little does Akemi know that Tatsu, a slimy, dimwitted opportunist, is playing both sides against each other hoping to set himself up with riches and a Boss title.
All the while, Akemi is being counseled by her Uncle, Jutaro Mitsui (Yoshi Kato), a former boss turned restaurateur, stating that going straight is the only path to true redemption. She considers it so heavily that her clan is decimated by the treachery of Tatsu, yet she doesn’t retaliate. The Tachibana Clan is eventually forced off of there territory due to her inactivity and planted opium for the police to find, allowing Tatsu to take over. However, soon after, word is sent to Akemi that they were framed by Tatsu and return to find that Akemi’s Uncle has been killed, giving her an unquenchable thirst for revenge.
During the final bloody clan battle, Akemi comes face to face with the Aiko and they go to a setting seemingly somewhere out of time to have it out…
Once again, Arrow delivers the goods on the HD transfer. The opening credits battle is so crisp and clear in all its gory glory that when the gang forms up to make their dragon tattoos form the whole dragon, you can see every line with the utmost clarity. The fight choreography was very well done and the penetrating sword wounds were realistic. If there was any issue with the film, it was the slash that blinded the Aiko, as it was so far away, it was unrealistic.
The character of the Blind Woman was also interesting, as her quiet demeanor gave no hint to her true badassery, sensing everything by smell and sound, like Dardevil. She had a hunchback henchman of sorts named Ushimatsu, whose performance was very creepy. Akemi was very well acted, as she started out seemingly quick to battle, but after she was cursed and tormented, she seemed to grow more sensible, thinking before she acted.
The final battle between Akemi and Aiko is the reason to see ‘Blind Woman’s Curse,’ not to detract from the rest of the film, but the entire scene is just mesmerizing with the backdrop of swirling clouds over a desolate landscape. The scene was also shot with a sort of Vaseline blur giving it a surreal, dreamlike quality which only adds to the final outcome for both warriors.
You can pre-order here.
Synopsis from Arrow:
A thrilling Yakuza film featuring eye-popping visuals, sensational fight sequences and the gorgeous Meiko Kaji (Lady Snowblood, Stray Cat Rock), in her first major role. Akemi (Kaji) is a dragon tattooed leader of the Tachibana Yakuza clan. In a duel with a rival gang Akemi slashes the eyes of an opponent and a black cat appears, to lap the blood from the gushing wound. The cat along with the eye-victim go on to pursue Akemi’s gang in revenge, leaving a trail of dead Yakuza girls, their dragon tattoos skinned from their bodies. A bizarre blend of the female Yakuza film and traditional Japanese ghost story, with a strong dash of grotesque-erotica (the same movement was a sensibility of Edogawa Rampo whose works were adapted by Ishii in Horrors of Malformed Men), Blind Woman’s Curse is a delirious mash-up of classic genre tropes, of which Ishii was no stranger, having directed everything from Super Giant films to Biker movies!
- New high definition digital transfer of the film prepared by Nikkatsu Studios
- Presented in High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD
- Uncompressed mono PCM audio
- Newly translated English subtitles
- Audio commentary by Japanese cinema expert Jasper Sharp
- Original Trailer
- Trailers for four of the films in the Meiko Kaji-starring Stray Cat Rock series, made at the same studio as Blind Woman’s Curse
- Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gilles Vranckx
- Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Japanese cinema expert Tom Mes, illustrated with original archive stills.