Female Prisoner Scorpion: Grudge Song

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“Can Sasori escape the hangman’s noose and live happily ever after?”

Nami (Kaji) is about to get married, but her wedding day is rudely interrupted by the arrival of the cops, who arrest her. On the way to prison (and, unsurprisingly, death row, given the body count left behind in the previous three movies), she takes out the driver, causing a crash. The injured Scorpion staggers away, and is rescued by Kudo (Tamura), a former political radical who was brutalized by the police for his actions, and so has a massive load of resentment against them. After being informed of Kudo’s harbouring of Nami by a worked at the sex-club where he works, the cops take him in: and use both physical and psychological torture to try and make him give up her location. Eventually arrested, Nami is sentenced to death, but the cops intend to make sure the time leading up to her execution is as unpleasant and possible, and the detective in charge, Hirose (Tsukata), is intent on making even Nami’s death as lonely an experience as possible.

“Just when I thought I was out… they pull me back in.” Michael Corleone’s quote from Godfather III seems appropriate here, as it appears Nami was preparing to settle down to a normal life, difficult though it is to see her as a happy housewife. Of course, the cops won’t let it lie, and so begins another cycle of revenge. As in the previous entry, it’s less Nami’s vengeance than her associate’s, at least initially, as we discover Kudo has as much, if not more, reason to hate the police as she does. The final section, however, returns to its roots, with Nami back in prison and having to handle hostility, not only from the police but the guards, though by this time, she has at least attained near-legendary status among the other prisoners, as you’d expect. Doesn’t stop her screwing with another prisoner, who appears to be calmly awaiting her fate: the point of that seemed kinda lost, and unnecessarily cruel.

The last of the series in which Kaji starred, it was also the only one of her four movies not directed by Ito. His replacement, Hasebe, is competent enough, but only rarely brings the same sense of style to proceedings. Kaji is as worth watching as ever, but for too long, she seems like a supporting character in her own movie, with the focus more on Kudo. Chalk up another win for misleading advertising though, as Nami certainly does not use the long rifle with which she is pictured on the DVD sleeve (right).

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