Female Prisoner #701: Scorpion (Japan 1972)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 5/12/20
Cast: Kaji Meiko, Rie Yokoyama

"To be deceived is a woman's crime."

Nami Matsushima (Kaji Meiko) was just a normal woman in love who devoted herself fully to her cop boyfriend, until he set her up in a sting operation and betrayed her to the bad guys. Her failed attempt to kill him landed her in a top security women's prison, where she's tormented and tortured by both the inmates and the staff. No matter how hard the system tries to break her, she defies their rule and gets punished even more. Much like Ogami Itto in "Lone Wolf And Cub" (1972), Nami has cast aside her humanity and walks the road to hell as a demon, fueled only by hatred and a lust for revenge. After miraculously surviving a prison riot and multiple attempts on her life, Nami escapes and exacts her revenge on her former lover, only to end up in jail once again for the inevitable sequel.

Admittedly, when I started watching this, I got it confused with the "Prisoner Maria" series, which features a female convict who reduces her sentence by agreeing to be a top secret government assassin on the outside. The "Scorpion" movies have none of that and are just straight forward women-in-prison exploitation films that focus on sex, violence, nudity, rape, torture, sadism, degradation, and humiliation. Normally I don't go for that kind of stuff, but what makes this film work so well is Kaji Meiko's intense and unflinching performance. She's stunningly gorgeous and has amazingly lustrous hair, and her piercing glare radiates an extreme hatred that leaves everyone impotent and weak in the knees. The thrill of the film is seeing how far she can be pushed before hitting the breaking point, and seeing her punish her tormenters is very satisfying. Kaji Meiko also appears topless in a couple of scenes, which surprised me because I figured an actress of her status and reputation wouldn't need to do that. It's a well-made film that transcends the genre with some psychedelic techniques, and it managed to keep my attention all the way through without crossing my own personal boundaries for sex and sadism. You want to see Nami succeed and survive, and she does.