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The Classic Revenge Thriller You Can Watch On HBO Max

Quentin Tarantino is widely known for ripping off movies that he loves, and "Kill Bill" is no exception to that rule. Those movies, which tell the story of a woman who survives a deadly attack at the hands of her former lover and seeks revenge on the people who tried to kill her, are indebted to everything from classic samurai movies to westerns and the grindhouse movies that were popular in the '70s and '80s. 

Among those films' many cinematic references, though, one of the most prominent is undoubtedly a classic Japanese film from the 1970s that also tells the story of a woman who spends much of the movie seeking revenge for people who have wronged her. "Lady Snowblood," which is now available to stream on HBO Max, is a story of icy revenge that features compelling action sequences and is still beloved by critics to this day. It certainly wasn't Tarantino's only influence, but it's one he drew from heavily

Lady Snowblood is a story of brutal revenge

In the opening moments of "Lady Snowblood," we meet the titular character Yuki's (Meiko Kaji) mother and discover how she will be set off on her quest for revenge. Yuki's mother explains in those first moments that she was raped by three of the four criminals who murdered her husband and their son a year ago. She managed to stab the fourth criminal to death, but she was imprisoned for life for committing the crime. 

Yuki's mother then seduced many prison guards in order to conceive her, with the goal of setting her daughter up on a mission of revenge. As she's giving birth to Yuki in prison with help from her fellow inmates, her mother asks that Yuki be trained so that she can carry out vengeance against the people who killed her family. 

The movie then follows Yuki as she seeks vengeance against the men and ultimately succeeds in her mission.

Lady Snowblood has plenty of action-oriented thrills

Although it's in Japanese, "Lady Snowblood" has enough action in it to make it worth a watch for any fan of elaborate martial arts choreography. The movie was praised by critics for being stylishly shot, and its story of revenge is complicated by the way it seems to suggest that cycles of vengeance can go on forever, leaving a trail of blood in their wake. 

The movie was directed by Toshiya Fujita, who made an enormous number of films over the course of his career. Although the movie has undeniably pulpy elements, and the story it's telling is remarkably simple, that's part of what has allowed it to have a lasting legacy almost 50 years after its initial release. It may have influenced the work Tarantino did on films like "Kill Bill", but that's far from the only reason action fans should check "Lady Snowblood" out on HBO Max.