Two Japanese men help a Vietnam war deserter escape from Japan for Sweden. They plan to fund the escape by selling LSD pills. After word of the drug deal gets spread around they find themselves fending off rival gangs.
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
Shunya Ito's "Joshuu 701-gô: Sasori" aka "Female Prisoner #701: Scorpion" of 1972 is an absolutely brilliant masterpiece of Japanese Exploitation cinema that is not quite comparable to anything else. The WIP (Women In Prison) sub-genre may have brought a bunch of highly entertaining flicks, but each of the four "Sasori" films (all of which were released between 1972 and 1973) outshines any other movie of the kind by a million times. Not only does "Joshuu 701-gô: Sasori", or "Sasori: Scorpion" as it is entitled here, outshine any other kind of WIP flick, this is one of the films that reign supreme in Exploitation cinema generally. More than any other movie, this film combines Exploitation and Art-house cinema, sleaze and artistic beauty in a most unique way. The absolutely divine Meiko Kaji is the star of this unforgettable film and nobody else could have played the leading role of Nami Matsushima aka. Sasori with such brilliance. Not only does she play the lead, Meiko Kaji also sings the beautiful theme song to this film, one of the greatest and most memorable pieces of Japanese film score ever, "Urami-Bushi", which became known to a wider Western audience when Tarantino used it for the soundtrack of "Kill Bill 2".
Raped, imprisoned tortured and abused, female prisoner #701, Nami Matsushima lives only for two things, escape from the hellhole of a woman's prison she is incarcerated in, and revenge on her former lover, who used her for his benefit and is responsible for all her misery. Due to her toughness and power of endurance, Nami, who is constantly tortured by sadistic guards in order to break her will, is referred to as "Sasori" ("Scorpion") by her fellow female prisoners...
The stunningly beautiful Meiko Kaji, one of my personal favorite actresses of all-time, plays her role with sheer brilliance. Sasori, who hardly says a word has an incomparably vengeful determination in her eyes, and Kaji's performance seems to become greater each time I see this movie. The rest of the performances are also outstanding, above all Riye Yokoyama, who is excellently sadistic as Katagiri, another female prisoner who hates Sasori, and Fumio Watanbe as the sadistic prison warden Goda. "Sasori" truly is an absolute exploitation highlight, and probably THE movie in which exploitation and art-house elements complement each other the most. The opening sequence, in which hundreds of naked women have to walk down a narrow hallway in a humiliating exercise (to the song "Urami-Bushi") alone is the best example for that, and furthermore one of the most memorable sequences ever in exploitation cinema. This movie is sleazy and often extremely brutal, with nasty scenes of rape, murder and sadistic torture, and yet so incomparably beautiful and often symbolic in its extreme violence and sleaze. The entire "Sasori" series with Meiko Kaji reigns supreme in the WIP sub-genre, and is a truly brilliant highlight of Japanese Exploitation cinema. Every fan of Exploitation and every lover of film in general MUST SEE this first "Sasori" film and personal favorite of mine, which easily deserves the highest rating of 10/10!
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