If you are a fan of Lady Snowblood, you’ll know doubt know the intensity of Meiko Kaji, and how iconic her performance is. This is why the release of the Female Prisoner Scorpion: The Complete Collection by Arrow Video should catch your interest straight away. If you’ve yet to experience the story of Nami Matsushima, also known as Scorpion this is your perfect chance.
The Female Prisoner Scorpion: The Complete Collection includes four films: Scorpion, Jailhouse 41, Beast Stable, and #701’s Grudge Song. Being exploitation movies it they take a route that you’ll likely expect. There is plenty of nudity, and violence against women. You’ll have to have a strong stomach for some of the scenes which do include rape.
While this type of thing is used as a shock tactic in many more modern exploitation movies, there is a reason for this level of violence though. To fully understand why Nami Matsushima is so intensely intent on vengeance you have to understand the level of violence that is perpetrated against her, and this is of course by men.
In the Female Prisoner Scorpion series many of the men are almost bestial in nature, especially with the first three movies. #701’s Grudge Song has a different style, though of course for the most part the men are the enemies. Through portraying the men as almost bestial in nature though it makes it easy to sympathise with Matsushima and understand her motives. The knowledge we gain from Scorpion, the “origin” of the character further emphasises the fact her original crime came from the actions of men.
Meiko Kaji is perfect for the role of Nami Matsushima, her intensity she puts into the role is done through much of her body language. Many times all it takes is a stare into the camera to get the point across that Scorpion is a woman who means business and will kill you without a seconds thought.
To put into context why the Female Prisoner Scorpion movies are so important in the history of movies we just have to look into who they have influenced. Included in the special features is an appreciation of the films by Gareth Evans (director of The Raid) who highlights how the movies influenced his movie making. When watching the Female Prisoner Scorpion: The Complete Collection you will also notice not only the stylistic influence they have had on Quentin Tarantino, but also the fact he uses music from the films in Kill Bill.
With such a good set of movies it comes as no surprise that there are plenty of special features to enjoy. These include the already mentioned interview with Gareth Evans, but also included are further appretiations by critic Kier-La Janisse, Kat Ellinger, and Kazuyoshi Kumakiri. There are also other interviews about the making of the film and of course a look at the career of Meiko Kaji.
If you are a fan of Japanese cinema, then Female Prisoner Scorpion: The Complete Collection is a must buy. I’d also say that fans of horror should be interested too, as there is a Gothic horror style that heavily comes into force as the films progress, even down to the character of Scorpion almost feeling like an iconic monster of cinema (though more of a spirit of vengeance than murder). One of the best Arrow Video releases of recent months, this is well worth a buy.
Female Prisoner Scorpion: The Complete Collection is available on DVD and Blu-ray now.