Monday, February 06, 2006

Opinion - Female Prisoner# 701: Scorpion

"Matsu (Meiko Kaji), known as "Scorpion," lands in prison thanks to the evil manipulations of an ex-boyfriend. Through her suffering at the hands of the jailers and other prisoners, director Shunya Ito creates a portrait of a woman is full of strength, beauty and an honor which outshines her peers and the cage within which she's contained. This first film in the series about the Scorpion remains one of the most famous and beloved Japanese exploitation films of the 1970s." - Summary

Female Prisoner# 701: Scorpion is 70's exploitation at its finest. With style to spare, director Shunya Ito directed this adaption of Toru Shinohara's manga. As one reviewer has described it, this film is "female prison movie as Noh theater." Wonderful use of color and dream-like imagery accents the sleaze and transforms it into something unique. There's plenty of gore and sex, and the usual unsettling S & M trappings you'd expect in a film of this genre and period, but the film is rather transcendent in its approach to the subject matter.

Given maybe eight lines of dialogue in the entire movie, central figure Matsu becomes a figure of undeniable cool. As portrayed by the beautiful Meiko Kaji (Lady Snowblood, Stray Cat Rock series), Mastu is both cold blooded and sympathetic, a woman betrayed who has become so ruthless and obsessed with vengence, she's nearly supernatural in her lethal cruelty.

Not even an hour and a half long, Female Prisoner# 701: Scorpion still manages to be more satisfying than it has any right to be. A definate must see for fans of 70's asian exploitation cinema.


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