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Duane Thomas | Tacoma, WA United States | 04/13/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Female Prisoner #701 - Scorpion stars the beautiful and talented Japanese actress Meiko Kaji, best known for playing Lady Snowblood and singing "Flower of Carnage," the title song to Kill Bill. This movie has everything to be a fine example of the "women in prison" film genre: stabbings, shootings, rape, lesbian sex, torture (scaldings, beatings, burnings, women hung by ropes from their elbows) and lots and lots of female nudity. Good clean family entertainment. What more could you want? "
Antihero of the (S)exploitation Film
Edward Lee | 03/06/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Uttering as few words as possible, Nami Matsushima (played by the stunningly beautiful Meiko Kaji) dispenses with the pleasantries and builds a reasonably impressive body count by the end of "Female Prisoner 701: Scorpion," one of the premiere films in the women's prison genre of films.
Natsuyagi is a cop looking to move ahead in his life, and money, after all, is the root of all evil. He hatches a scheme to use his lovely girlfriend, Nami, to lure the local mafia bosses into a scheme. But when the gang feels something's amiss, they escort Nami into a back room and rape her. Breaking in, Natsuyagi realizes he finally has what he wants: ignoring his fallen girlfriend, he convinces the mob that he can make all of their problems go away if they pay him off. They agree, and Natsuyagi has Nami thrown into prison ... where she undergoes the obligatory beatings, teasing, and other forms of degradation so common to 'girls behind bars' films.
What makes "Scorpion" different is the fact that Director Shunya Ito - in his debut film - decided to ride the fine line between art and trash. He combines the best elements of the vindictive woman's feature along with artsy lighting in order to achieve the effect of a car crash: the viewer really hates to slow down and watch, but there really must be something to see here, right? The violence is gratuitous, if not psychedelic, at times, but it all manages to flesh out (pun intended) before Nami manages to finally break out of prison and go on her murderous rampage, taking out the mobsters one-by-one until her final showdown with the unsuspecting Natsuyagi.
Also, in Kaji's graceful hands, Nami isn't so much a victim as she is an antihero, not at all unlike Clint Eastwood in Sergio Leone's spaghetti westerns. The viewer is pulled into this world by means of a very beautiful woman who refuses to be a 'prisoner' to the genre. Instead, she's defiant and calculating at every turn, refusing to comply with the warden's demands of good behavior. She challenges every authority, instituting her own code of justice which applies to everyone: her fellow inmates, the prison guards, and even the police outside. Uncompromising in her dedication, she ignores the acts she endures for the sake of focusing on one sole objective: revenge.
... and that's an act she takes with complete seriousness.
NOTE: Apparently, there is an issue associated to subtitling, as has been referred by other reviewers. I had no problem whatsoever, but I would add that the film would not play with the correct aspect ratio of 2:35:1 in my American DVD player. I did have to watch the film in my Region Free player, and I did not experience any problems."
Best Women in Prison flicks ever
J. Sotelo | Sacramento CA | 06/17/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Female Convict Scorpion movies are fantastic and Meiko Kaji is just incredible. I really hope someone release the other two Scorpion movies she made so that we can get the whole saga.
Note to folks who complained about subtitles: on some DVD players, you must ACTIVELY turn the sub titles ON using your DVD's internal function. There is no menu item to do this on the DVD. I have found this to be true with a few of the Media Blaster/Tokyo Shock dvd's. On my player I can do this just using my remote control and hitting the 'subtitles' button."
Red Blood Paint
Daitokuji31 | Black Glass | 06/28/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"By the end of the 1960s, film ticket sells in Japan had dropped immensely because of the influx of the popularity of television. In order to make ends meet, several of the big studios turned to making "pink films" or "Roman Porno" flicks as they were commonly called. Most of these films were quite cheap and their production time was quite short. A good portion of these films pandered to some of the darker aspects of sexual desire including such themes as rape, S&M, and incest. Obviously, these films were often geared towards a male audience. During the latter half of the 1960s the female characters within these films were often "victims" of physical, emotional, and sexual violence in these films. However, it was often the case that such violence would lead the victim to fall in love with her rapist with an almost maternal affection. However, by the early 1970s, while these films were still full of gratuitous nudity and violence, the female characters began to grow stronger and instead of falling in love with their victimizers would strike back violently against them.
Female Prisoner # 701-Scorpion stars Kaji Meiko, probably most famous for her role as Lady Snowblood, as Matsushima Nami, a young woman sentenced to prison after attempting to kill her detective boyfriend after he used her in a bust that also resulted in her being raped by several members of the yakuza. Now, some three years later, Nami along with her friend Yuki try to escape a women's prison, but are soon caught. Imprisoned once again, Nami suffers torture at the hands of other prisoners, including having scalding miso soup poured on her bare skin. However, her spirit is never broken. Ever silent, Nami waits for the day in which she can seek her revenge.
On the surface Female Prisoner # 701-Scorpion is no different than several other films produced in this genre. It includes such scenes as the rape scene, a vaguely S&M scene, a lesbian sex scene, etc. However, it is evident that Ito, this was his debut film by the way, was trying to make more out of this films parts than the composite whole. The camera definitely shines at certain moments and there is even a scene that is reminiscent of a horror scene that could be found in a kabuki play, albeit one with a female cast and full nudity. Also, like many films from this period, this movie has an excellent soundtrack with Kaji singing vocals on the title and ending track "Urami Bushi" which was also used in Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill films.
A decent film with several sequels, spin-offs, and imitators, I would recommend this film to anyone who is interested in Japanese film from this time period or Exploitation films in general."
Joaquim Lobo | ma | 08/30/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have to say this is one of my all time favorite films. I love the opening credits its just naked japanese women everywhere. This movie is loaded with sex, nudity, and violence. If you are a fan of japanese exploitaion films from the 70's you will love this"