Prisoner Maria: The Movie (Japan 1995)

Rating: **
Review Date: 9/3/99
Cast: Noriko Aota

Much better than I thought it would be - I was expecting something more along the lines of "Zero Woman" in terms of quality and content. Maria (slick and sexy Noriko Aota) is a woman who has been sentenced to life in prison for killing the gangster that murdered her husband. The shifty warden offers her a chance to reduce her sentence and see her son again in exchange for certain favors - namely killing certain criminals that the police can't touch. The son of an important politician has the nasty habit of kidnapping women and gruesomely slicing them up. In order to avoid a scandal, the politician confidentially asks Maria to go out and kill her maniac son before the cops can catch him. She soon learns that there's a lot more going on, which ultimately leads her to a Taiwanese slave trading ring. Naturally, she takes everyone out and manages to escape with her alibi intact. It's a competently made film, and Noriko Aota's presence and performance are quite a treat. She's tough, fiercely sexy, knows how to handle a gun, and fights convincingly, even though she continually gets her ass kicked. The hit she makes in the first ten minutes of the film is alone worth the price of a rental. However, the film is full of tacky B-movie elements as well. Yes, it's sleazy. Fortunately, it only crosses the line between "erotic" and "uncomfortably trashy" a couple of times, and those instances are cut just short of being intolerable. Additionally, the action scenes are sparse and sluggish, and a few of them feature a male stunt double for Ms. Aota - NOT acceptable. Of course, the funniest bit in the whole film takes place when Maria is ambushed by a tough Taiwanese thug and beaten senseless. Right before he can kill her, a cop who has taken a liking to her comes to her rescue. Beaten, bruised, and barely conscious, she decides to thank him by seducing and making love to him right there. Sure. Wow Maria, that really takes some endurance...