A woman gives birth to a baby girl while in prison in the late 1800 Japan. The woman dies after the birth but before she dies she wants her daughter Yuki to continue her plan of vengeance.
Yuki (Meiko Kaji) grows up learning how to fight and kill. She needs to kill three more people. Before she was born her mother and her mother’s husband were attacked by a group of four people. The husband was killed and the mother was raped. The mother tracked down one of the four and murdered him which is why she was in prison. While in prison she purposely got pregnant by one of the guards so she could have a child to finish seeking vengeance.
Yuki uses a sword hidden in an umbrella to kill those who wronged her mother. She manages to track down two more of the criminals but has trouble finding the last two. She gets help from a journalist who has become fascinated with her tale.
While exploitation films in the U.S. were becoming big, they were also becoming huge in Japan. Lady Snowblood was based on a comic book series by Kazuo Kato who also wrote the Lone Wolf and Cub series. Both series were made into movies that featured gratuitous blood and gore.
The movie was popular enough to have a sequel and the theme song that star Meiko Kaji sings was used by Quentin Tarantino in his homage movie Kill Bill Vol. 1. The movie itself is awesome. Told in a non linear fashion it jumps around as it builds to a violent climax. Actress Meiko Kaji starred in several action films in the 1970s and this was one of her best.