Shinsuke Sato’s directorial debut was The Princess Blade, a film adaptation of a manga. He cast Yumiko Shaku as the lead, while providing a strong supporting cast for the other roles. One of his biggest decisions, however, was getting Donnie Yen to choreograph the action. Would Donnie be able to make something special of this film, or was it too tall of an order?
While I’ve never read the source material, it’s probably safe to say that the movie isn’t as deep as the comics. Yumiko Shaku plays a strong-willed character, but it’s hard to understand the motives behind her actions sometimes. The characters pretty much serve one purpose, and there is no other depth to them. It’s a shame, really, because some interesting plotlines could have formed if the proper attention was given to them.
The only “shocking” twist comes at the end, and it seems a little jarring compared to the pacing for the rest of the film. Speaking of pacing, the story hits a couple strong notes, but never really finds its stride. What bothers me most is that there is practically no growth to the characters. Even if they had never met, I don’t think their outcomes would have changed.
This is actually trickier than you’d believe. See, Donnie did a pretty good job choreographing the action. There are plenty of slick moves that still impress and the action itself isn’t half bad. In fact, it’s so good that you’ll immediately notice when actors are doubled. The frame is typically very close to show Yumiko’s face, or pulled back far enough that you can’t see it at all. The reason why her hair is short isn’t to make her look cool (though it kinda does) it’s so they can double her easier.
Own it, Watch it, or Skip it?
The Princess Blade had a lot going for it, but ultimately falls flat. The story is predictable and the characters have no depth. While Donnie’s action is good, the excessive use of doubling will put most viewers off. Unless you’re a hardcore Yen or Shaku fan, it’s better to avoid this one altogether.
No idea why, but the special edition is waaay cheaper for this one.