When I was reviewing Yakuza films earlier on my show, after reviewing the Yakuza Papers series, and Outrage, I’d realized that I’d basically covered a bunch of deconstructions, without getting into what they were deconstructing.
Blind Woman’s Curse follows Meiko Kaji as Akemi. She is the boss of a Yakuza clan – and during a fight with a rival clan, Akemi blinds the sister of that clan’s leader with an errant sword stroke. After that cut, a black cat laps the blood from the girl’s wound, so cursing Akemi. After the fight Akemi goes to prison and earns the respect of some fellow women. Those women, after getting out, also get dragon tattoos to go with Akemi’s, and join her clan.
Around the same time these women (who – I should mention – aren’t named) join, Akemi’s clan finds it self confronted by two rival gangs – one confronting them openly, the other seeking to undermine them. And, during all of this, a blind swords-woman shows up, and Akemi’s colleagues start ending up dead, with the tattoos skinned from their backs.
Structurally, this film is kind of a mess. On the one hand, you have what is (somewhat) a fairly standard Yakuza film story – with Akemi running a gang that respects the Yakuza code and works honorably, while being confronted by a rival Clan who subverts it (the clan lead by Dobashi, played by Toru Abe), or gangs that don’t follow the Yakuza code but are honorable in their own way, like Aozaru, who is always wearing a suit jacket, bowler hat, carrying a western style stick cane, and wears a loincloth in lieu of pants.
It fits one of the main narratives (I’ll cover the other one tomorrow), of the honorable boss or gang member who lives by the code triumphing over those who reject it – the “honorable” gangster triumphing over those who act without honor, as opposed to the Yakuza Papers, and Outrage, where those without honor thrive.
And then there’s the horror movie part. That part is competently done, but feels like a vestige of another film. The movie is willing to dabble in horror here, but it can never quite commit, which makes it a little underwhelming.
Otherwise, the acting performances are fine, and the production design and cinematography is good. If you’re looking to see a Yakuza film played half-straight, then this is a good film to go with.
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