Death Row Girls

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“Despite the poster, more WiP than GwG.”

Misaki (Hoshino) is in prison for stabbing a policeman to death, but is taken from her jail to a remote island. There, she joins the rest of the hand-picked prisoners, who are there to be trained by a mysterious government organization, and moulded into operatives who can be used to protect national security. Most of the inmates just want to make things easy, sleeping with the guards in exchange for privileges, but Misaki is made of tougher stuff, and won’t buckle down to the authorities. While she begins plotting how to escape the island, she needs to overcome a number of problems, not least having no idea about where it is, and whether the small boat they stumble across will be capable of getting them to any other land.

There’s definitely elements of Nikita here, not least the sequence where Misaki tries to take the facility head hostage. Except that, where that breezed through the training inside 25 minutes, it is, more or less, the entire focus of proceedings here. Hoshino snarls nicely as an independent and feisty bad girl, yet neither she nor any of the other residents are in the slightest bit convincing. I’d normally avoid using a phrase like “runs like a girl” as unnecessarily demeaning… except here, where it’s entirely accurate. I can see absolutely no chance – zero, zip, nada – that any credible group would select her, or the rest of the inmates, as potential trainees.

The film does deliver the expected helpings of gratuitous nudity and moderate violence, as things bumble along towards the climax, where Misaki has to battle her jail friend, to the death. Winner gets to leave, loser…well, will be dead, so shouldn’t worry themselves about it. It’s not exactly the best knife-fight you’ve ever seen, and the ending leaves a good deal to be desired in terms of tying up the loose ends as well. The 84 minutes passed reasonably enough though, and it’s reasonably competent, albeit by the genre’s fairly-low standards.

Dir: Sadaaki Haginiwa
Star: Aki Hoshino, Emi Kitagawa, Ren Suzuki, Ami Natsui
a.k.a. Female Prisoner 1316

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