New Female Prisoner Scorpion: Special Cellblock X (1977) Poster

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Fantastic piece of Japanese exploitation
The_Void27 May 2009
The four 'Female Prisoner Scorpion' films are likely to be among the first films mentioned in any discussion about the best Pinky Violence films of all time. The 1976 reboot of the series - entitled 'New Female Prisoner Scorpion' is less likely to be mentioned, and for good reason; although it was still a very decent slice of Japanese exploitation. The first film was basically just a remake of the original Female Prisoner Scorpion, but thankfully this sequel is not just a remake of the second; but rather a completely new Female Prisoner Scorpion film. And a rather good one at that. Naturally, the film focuses on Nami; complete with a different reason for being in jail; this time she was once a nurse. We pick up the story shortly after one of Nami's escape attempts has been foiled and she's found herself back at the prison; much to the dismay of her fellow inmate, who were punished on her behalf. This also heralds the arrival of a new and unforgiving prison warden; leading to an unlikely union between Nami and a former prison guard.

Meiko Kaji made the title role her own in the first four films; and her presence here is desperately missed. Yôko Natsuki steps into the lead role for this film (making her the third actress to play it) and is nowhere near as good, which does harm the whole film. It's lucky, then, that director Yutaka Kohira (who also directed the previous entry) is able to make up for the lack of acting talent with a great plot that flows freely and is always enough to keep things entertaining. Of course you've got the staples of the series (rivalry between prisoners, brutality from the guards etc) but the director also allows the plot to evolve several times; and we switch from prison drama to chase movie. It can feel a little disjointed at times; but it's so entertaining that most viewers probably won't even notice. The style of the film is not as experimental and some of the original Female Prisoner Scorpion entries; but it is more so than the previous film. Overall, Female Prisoner Scorpion: Special Cellblock X might not be the best of the series; but it's a blast from start to finish and comes recommend to Pinky Violence fans.
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The Scorpion's Swan Song... Another terrific installment.
Coventry28 May 2008
The sixth and final entry in the successful "Female Prisoner 701: Scorpion" exploitation series of the 70's, but only the second one referred to as "New" because it doesn't star Meiko Kaji in the titular role. The first four films are famous, acclaimed and worshiped by genre fanatics all over the globe (righteously, I may add) whereas the last two remain completely overlooked and even neglected by DVD distributors so far. Unrighteous, very much so even, because they too are still vastly superior W.i.P movies with plenty of action and suspense, vivid sleaze and diabolically villainous characters. The first four films admittedly were more experimental and benefited from more consistent direction and acting performances, but the plots of "New Female Prisoner" and "Jailhouse X" are involving and exhilarating enough for you to forgive the shortage of style elements and imagery. Once again, Nami is provided with an entirely new background story of how she ended up in prison and became a deeply embittered woman. The film opens with Nami getting escorted back to the isolation cell after a brief but inciting escape. The other prisoners hate her for all the extra punishment she caused and the head warden loses his job and gets replaced by a young and violent new one. Nami desperately wants to escape in order to have her revenge against the hospital director she used to work for (as he ruined her life and happiness) and so she reluctantly teams up with the previous head warden for another spectacular escape. "Jailhouse X" doesn't feature any groundbreaking new themes or surprising plot twists, but the script is coherently written and fully focusing on offering as much action as possible. Even in his second directorial effort, Yutaka Kohira doesn't risk experimenting with camera angles, color schemes or picture compositions, but at least the action sequences – the interior ones as well as the exterior ones – are masterfully staged and exciting. There are sleazy images, too, but the wholesome remains very tasteful. If you want W.i.P films with loads of nudity and lesbianism, check out the Italian movies instead of the Japanese. I sincerely hope the "New" Female Prisoner movies will soon receive proper DVD-releases as well, as I'm sure they would appeal to fellow cult-cinema/exploitation fanatics.
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