I just recently got around to ordering and viewing the Ring Divas heroine release Sayuri Blood Chronicles II. It was released a while back (maybe a couple of years ago), and since I was disappointed with the original Sayuri Blood Chronicles I thought I would pass this time. The original release had many flaws, in my opinion, that prevented it from being enjoyable, which is a real shame considering the out-of-this-world beauty of Sayuri. The actress really gives the performance her all, but unfortunately, she appears to have been told to cry and whine her way through the entire film. Every time she is punched or hit, she cries, as if she’s an innocent girl who has been cruelly kidnapped and forced to undergo a terrible ordeal, rather than a strong, brave heroine who refuses to give in. (This may sound unimportant, but those of you who are into these kinds of films know what I mean).
In addition, the original Sayuri Blood Chronicles spent too much time setting up the “story” (or, in this case, the torture scenes), and featured no dialog during the movie’s most important moments. It all added up to a heroine movie with a lot of potential, but a disappointing one.
I didn’t expect Sayuri Blood Chronicles II to be any better, but I was wrong. The biggest flaws from the original film were corrected for this production, and Sayuri this time is utterly defiant and brave the entire time, which makes the whole film work really well. She really throws herself into her scenes, and it results in a very effective “heroine destruction” movie that ranks among the best.
There really isn’t a story to speak of this time. Unlike the Japanese heroine films of the Akiba companies (Zen Pictures and Giga for Freeks), this film spends virtually no time attempting to explain who these people are or how this situation developed. Instead, the movie begins by showing a brief fight scene between Sayuri and (I assume) her arch enemy, played by Vanelle. Scenes from this fight sequence are interspersed throughout the rest of the film. (I suspect this was done so that those ordering only the first episode wouldn’t be thoroughly disappointed in seeing only the setup to the torture scenes in subsequent episodes).
After this brief fight, Sayuri finds herself with hands tied over her head to a torture rack. Soon, the torture scenes begin, and they are performed extremely well by Lau, although the guy playing the torturer makes the huge mistake of thinking that he matters in some way. No one watching the film cares one way or the other about him, how he feels, what he thinks, etc., but he spends too much time as the center of attention. This flaw is not enough to ruin the film, but it ultimately would have been much better without his overdone performance.
All three parts are basically the same thing: Sayuri is tortured with stomach punches, back punches, strikes with a nightstick, choked, scratched, and otherwise beaten and humiliated. Lau’s performance makes it all work, in addition to the fact the she is unbelievably gorgeous. Every episode also contains brief fight scenes between Vanelle and Sayuri, although these are inconsequential. (We never really know whether this happened before or after the torture scenes).
All things considered, and despite its flaws, I consider this among the best heroine movies I’ve ever seen. All the elements are there, and it all works very well this time around. Most of the credit goes to the lead actress, but the filmmakers deserve credit as well for treating the heroine as a strong, defiant character instead of an innocent victim. Although this recommendation probably comes too late, this heroine movie is well worth the money, in my opinion, and reaches the level of the best Japanese produced heroine films, even though the budget is considerably lower.
Now that Sayuri has apparently left Ring Divas, there will most likely not be any more heroine films in the Sayuri Blood Chronicles saga. Which is a real shame considering the progress Ring Divas was making in this series. In fact, the company appears to have stopped producing their own heroine movies. (Update: RingDivas is back in production, currently working on a new Girls of War film). Maybe, someday, if the stars align, Lau will return to Ring Divas for another Sayuri heroine film. Until then, I highly recommend Sayuri Blood Chronicles II and give it the grade of A-.