27 February 2009 | lazarillo
Japanese WIP flick almost avante-garde in its gratuitousness
Normally you can't go wrong with a DVD release from Mondo Macabre, but I don't what to make of THIS. It's technically a "pink" film, but it's not one that I've ever seen reviewed by any of the well-known genre critics like Jaspar Sharp or Thomas Weissner. It's basically a WIP (women in prison) film, but it's very different from anything else in the genre. Instead of the standard story of an innocent "new fish" thrown into a prison, the story starts en media res of a power struggle between a matronly but brutal warden and a rebellious young prisoner who keeps trying to escape. The young prisoner is actually guilty for a change, however, and although she is frequently and horribly brutalized, she is incredibly stoic and tough, much like the character Meiko Kaji played in the 1970's "Female Prisoner Scorpion" series (the only film this somewhat resembles).
The word "gratuitous" gets thrown around a lot, but this movie is really the essence of gratuitous. There is so much gratuitous sex and gratuitous rape and gratuitous bondage and torture scenes that movie almost ceases to even be a narrative film (the ending is especially confounding). Unlike with a hardcore porno flick, however, you don't get the sense that it was simply because the people involved didn't have the talent to make a narrative film. It's more like they intentionally took the most exploitative and gratuitous material imaginable and took it several steps beyond into the realm of the avante-garde.
There are some typical Japanese touches. They "optically fog" any hint of pubic hair, for instance, but have no problem splashing around every kind of bodily fluid imaginable. And in unique Japanese fashion, the movie manages to be jaw-droppingly offensive, but at the same time, so ridiculously silly that it's hard to take seriously. In one scene, for instance, a mob of VERY horny female prisoners leap over a fence and attack some male construction workers. One of the workers responds by urinating right in the faces of several of the women, who act like they're being blessed with holy water. Of course, this is incredibly offensive and almost unimaginable in any Western film (outside of an extreme fetish porn flick), but it's also patently ridiculous that ANY woman in ANY country separated from men for a few years would ever possibly act this way.
Obviously, this movie isn't for everybody (and I don't know that I want to be around the kind of people it IS for), but it's certainly different.