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After being cruelly set up and deceived by Sugimi (Natsuyagi Isao), a conniving and crooked detective she had whole-heartedly fallen in love with (and subsequently lost her virginity to...), Matsushima Nami's desire for revenge knows no bounds. Her failed attempt at stabbing Sugimi on the steps of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Headquarters results in her doing hard time in a female prison run by sadistic and horny male guards. To Sugimi's surprise, Matsushima refuses to testify against him and his connections to the mob, and now the sheer fact that she knows such secrets makes her a liability. So Sugimi and the Japanese mafia orchestrate a plan whereby Matsushima will succumb to an "accidental" death in prison. They enlist the help of Kagiri, another female inmate with ties to both Sugimi and the mafia, thus their formidable plan is quickly set in motion. Little do they realize, however, how hotly Matsushima's desire for revenge burns within her. Written by
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.
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