Female Prisoner Scorpion: Jailhouse 41 (1972)

Genres - Crime  |   Sub-Genres - Action Thriller, Crime Thriller, Prison Film  |   Run Time - 89 min.  |   Countries - Japan  |  
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Directed without any trace of decorum or self-restraint, Female Convict Scorpion -- Jailhouse 41 is an outrageously stylish and imaginative women-in-prison film. This is the second entry in a six-film series, but its plot stands on its own without requiring the viewer to see the preceding movie (although it may help to know that Scorpion gouged out one of the warden's eyes in the first film). Scorpion is silent for most of the film, so Kaji's main responsibility as an actor is to be as expressively inexpressive as Clint Eastwood was in his spaghetti Westerns; the hint of anger behind her detached expression makes her seem particularly menacing, while her quietness provides a balance to the baroque excesses of Ito's visual style. Filmed in widescreen with oversaturated colors and a lot of contrast, Female Convict Scorpion -- Jailhouse 41 bombards the viewer with outrageously brutal images, including the aftermath of a rather creative castration; lyrical images such as leaves turning from brown-orange to gray for one death scene and a waterfall turning red for another; and Kabuki-like fantasy sequences that are interspersed between the action. The film's heavy-handed visual style is matched with a sexploitation story line that could be enjoyed as camp or even praised as a critique of society's mistreatment of women, although the unpleasant scenes of rape and torture of women may ruin some people's enjoyment of the film. Those who don't find this aspect of the film too depressing may enjoy Female Convict Scorpion -- Jailhouse 41 as a fascinating testament to the power of an unfettered imagination.