12 March 2008 | Coventry
Bird of Prey ... Bird of Retaliation ...
Since the past couple of days I'm really hooked on the "Female Scorpion" series and I keep hitting myself over the head because I waited until now which is way too long before purchasing the whole box set. "Beast Stable" is the third brilliant effort in a row, and the undeniably main trump of this series is how the writers always came up with something entirely new and different for each installment. Never before, or after, has there been an exploitation series that offered so much variety when it comes to story lines, settings, themes and filming styles. The original more or less qualified as a so-called "Women-in-Prison" flick (but already an atypical one), but you can't possibly categorize parts 2 and 3 as such, since they hardly feature any footage within prison walls. And the overall tone and atmosphere keeps changing with each new episode as well. The first film was harsh and gritty, whereas the second was psychedelic and part three is almost mainly melodramatic. Don't let this last description discourage you, however, as "Beast Stable" still features more than enough exploitative themes and disturbing footage in spite of the dramatic ambiance. The opening sequence, for example, is downright fantastic. Sasori, still a fugitive from the law, literally chops her way to freedom on the subway when there's no other possibility than to cut off the arm of the persistent policeman that handcuffed her. Her run through the city with the cut-off arm dangling on hers while the credits appear on screen, accompanied by the familiar theme song, is just pure and genuine exploitation gold! The story compellingly continues with our heroine desperately trying to lead an anonymous life in the big city, but the poor thing simply can't escape her past or even new types of agony. Sasori befriends a prostitute, though without exchanging dialog, and takes on a job in a sewing atelier. Her own retarded brother (!) impregnates the prostitute, while Sasori gets in trouble with the local pimping and underground crime network. She cleverly prevents a thug from taking advantage of her body, encounters a former enemy from prison and furiously avenges one of the prostitutes when she gets submitted to a barbaric abortion. Meanwhile, the one-armed cop continues to obsessively prowl the streets, looking for retribution against Sasori. Our multi-talented director Shunya Ito formidably criss-crosses all these story lines to a powerful wholesome and never once loses grip on the visual aspects or ingenious filming style. "Beast Stable" features some of the most impressive compositions and ingenious camera angles you can imagine, the editing is flawless and the exterior locations are effectively depressing. Those who know Sasori's character a bit are aware that the film seriously lacks memorable dialogs, but this always gets widely compensated with Meiko Kaji's wondrous on screen charisma and menacing grimaces. There's very little sleaze, apart from the aforementioned incestuous sub plot, but the brief flashes of extreme violence are terrific and the twisted ending is almost too brilliant for words. In fact, I think part three might just be the greatest (or at least, my favorite) one of the series so far. My only small and totally irrelevant point of criticism is regarding the ridiculous sounds one of the birds produces when Sasori is locked up in a cage. That bird sounds like a ventriloquist's dummy with stomach cramps.