Director: Shunya Ito
Notable Cast: Meiko Kaji, Fumio Watanabe, Kayoko Shiraishi, Yukie Kagawa, Yuki Arasa
There is no series of films quite like the Female Prisoner Scorpion films. They are unique, impactful, and layered to the point pure density. While I reviewed the first film for our Meiko Kaji celebration earlier this year [check out that review HERE], Arrow Video has been kind enough to package all four of the original Female Prisoner Scorpion films in a new box set for collectors and this vulgar auteur could not be happier with the results. So it’s with great pleasure that the next three installments of the series will get official reviews here on the site and hopefully, in all seriousness, these reviews convince someone to purchase and experience these films for the first time – or again – so that the legacy of their artful approach to exploitative cinema can only grow. The films are all worthy enough that they deserve that much.
This leads me to the focus of this review, the second film in the series and the widely acclaimed Female Prisoner Scorpion: Jailhouse 41. In many circles, this is the considered the best of the series and for legitimate reason. Jailhouse 41 is not only a film that continues on with the themes, style, and story that the first film established, but it takes each one to the next level and punches it through with a thoughtful (and forceful) impact that simply cannot be ignored. This is the kind of film, like its predecessor, that nimbly elevates itself to a high art level of creative cinematic purpose where the exploitative elements on its surface only help to craft a foundation for the art to exist on. This is a film that entertains ultimately with its prisoners on the run plotting, but it leaves such a resonating message and feeling that it lasts well beyond its time frame and might even be just as relevant now as it was in 1972.