Lady Death 2004
I feel like I’m already halfway through this month of animation and unfortunately I’ve hit the first snag. Things have been going pretty peachy so far and I just hope that this isn’t a portent of things to come. I also want to make a quick mention of Hulu where I watched this film. Recently it has been pushing its paid subscriptions so hard that you can barely even get past the front page without signing up for a free trial. They do still have a large number of movies available to watch without a subscription, but it’s not intuitive on how to get to anywhere to search for them. But if you aren’t scared off by this review and want to watch it for yourself, just click right here and go straight to it. But the film itself has a few moments of gorgeous artwork, but aside from that is just a jumbled mess with bad voice acting.
Lady Death starts out in typical fantasy non-specific dark ages where there’s a war going on. Well, technically the film does one of the laziest and unnecessary tropes where it actually starts in the middle of the story with Lady Death leading an army of demons in an attack on Lucifer himself, but then switches straight into an origin story that should have been the actual start of the film. It wasn’t even as if there was much action in the opening to help quicken the pacing. It was mostly just set up that wasn’t needed, and there was a time jump that was quite unclear until it finally gets back around to the point that started the film. It also combines a couple other cliched plot points that are the focus of most of the story. The main character, Hope slash Lady Death is seeking revenge on her father who turns out to be Lucifer, and she does so seeking revenge for the death and capture of her lifelong love Niccolo.
But one of the worst things about this film is apparent after only the first few minutes and continues throughout the rest of the movie. Because it is set in the past, the writer and/or director decided that they weren’t allowed to use contractions in their speech. There may have been other elements of the dialogue that contributed, but when all contractions are removed, it’s much harder to speak and make it sound natural. So as a result, the dialogue of the entire movie sounds stiff and stilted as the voice actors are forced to talk in this unnatural way.
There’s also this weird line of sexuality that takes it as far as it can go without crossing that PG-13 barrier even though the film tosses blood around as if it were nothing. There is no nudity, but there is a strong focus on sexuality and sensuality surrounding Lucifer and Lady Death. During her training montage where she essentially fully transforms from her human form as Hope to her more powerful form as Lady Death her hair turns from blonde to white but her clothes also become more and more revealing until she ends up wearing essentially a bikini and thigh high boots. And while it may be slightly embarrassing to admit noticing this, but the way her nipples were treated never entirely made sense. They would appear and disappear at random, and they would often appear in slightly different positions from scene to scene. And again, since there isn’t any nudity, it’s just the outline of her nipple that’s supposedly visible through her bikini. There’s also a couple moments during the big war between two armies of demons where they break for the night and she takes the time to change into a silky negligee and sleep in her four poster bed with silk curtains. Lucifer also has his own moments where he is surrounded by a harem of barely clad succubi.
The plot itself is nothing to write home about either. It has fleeting moments of great visual cinematography and the occasional gorgeously detailed backgrounds, but the essential nature of it is a typical revenge tale that’s been seen in fantasy over and over again. Lady Death has great power within her and she must learn how to wield it in order to defeat her father. Along the way she gains a couple companions by way of a pair of hell hounds and a giant man to train her in the art of swordplay. She defeats a demon lord to usurp his army and has to confront her love who has been released by Lucifer only for her to be forced to kill Niccolo by her own hands. Even the battles themselves are rather lackluster, aside from a few moments of gushing blood and decapitations, the swordplay isn’t exciting. Lady Death also has some telekinetic ability via these blue flashes of lightning that emanate from her eyes. When she first attacks the demon lord who is also a giant slug creature, he catches her in mid air, but when she comes back at him she does the exact same thing but this time he doesn’t put up any defense at all.
There’s really just not much to recommend about this film aside from some character designs. And it’s a bit of a pity because the concept of Lady Death sounds like a fascinating concept. She’s the daughter of the devil who comes into her own powers, but it’s told in such a lackluster way that it’s not very interesting at all. And that combined with dialogue that sounds more like a mediocre English dub of a Japanese anime than the actual US production that it is, all makes for an unfortunately lousy movie. It reminds me a little bit of Heavy Metal, but that had better dialogue and wasn’t afraid to push their sexuality to nudity, even though it fares only slightly better overall. I will say that it wasn’t a total mess, but it’s really difficult to get past the dialogue which is consistently bad throughout the movie. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.