Following on from the first film we see our female assassin hunted down by hired ninjas for her handy work. She is on her way to complete the mission set out in the first film and assassinate 'Sanada' (her finale target), along the way she meets up with a group of bandits who assist her but this also allows spies into the equation. This is the basis for the plot very simply laid out.
I must say I got the feeling this film may have been one big long film that was cut into two on purpose, the whole thing filmed in one go. The continuity is very good with both plot and certain actors returning and you do get a fairly epic feeling in the scope of things. Aya Ueto in the lead is still cute as hell while Tak Sakaguchi seems to be in every modern Japanese flick with any hint of action.
To be honest the film isn't entirely different from the first in the terms of what happens. Its more sword slashing, blood spurting and many similar yet nicely created characters, it also visually appears identical to the first hence why I think it was all made at the same time. Not exactly worthy of an epic award but certainly well made with some grand action sequences to please the eye.
Like all Japanese Samurai/ninja films it has a lovely period feel to the proceedings with small segments of fantasy or myth. These do add to the charm of the film but also take away from it. The story is based on a manga comic but there are so many of these adaptations from Japan you do get a strong sense of deja vu half the time.
The main plus points in this film (like many other films from the land of the rising sun) are the characters. Big, bold, colourful, exciting, athletic and overflowing with emotions whilst the flash of their Katana's glint in the sun at you. The plot is pretty much the same old search for revenge, truth or justice motif with nothing really new to offer in terms of action but it does the job well.