The Story of Ricky meets Saviour of the Soul.”

While sharing the heroine’s name with the renowned Female Convict Scorpion series, it’s not clear how much of an official remake this is: it’s supposedly based on a manga series, which I don’t quite recall being the case with its predecessors (it was a while ago I saw the original, though – must get round to re-viewing it for the site at some point soon). The concept is not dissimilar, however: Sasori (Mizuno) is sent to prison, where she is brutalized, but eventually escapes, and seeks vengeance on those who were responsible for putting her inside to begin with. However, it’s really poor at providing motive or explanation: for example, after Sasori is left for dead, her body is dumped outside the prison, where a corpse-collector (HK veteran, Simon Yam) rescues and revives her, before training her in the ways of top-end martial arts and sending Sasori on her way. Why? Who knows. Similarly, the reason why our heroine is in prison at all, raises more questions than it answers.

It’s a movie of two halves: the first sees her struggling to survive in a prison, where the warden makes the inmates fight each other, in a muddy pit naturally, for his amusement; Sasori ends up battling the evil jail queen, Dieyou (Natsume), and that’s where the Story of Ricky comparisons come in, though without quite the same level of hypergore. But outside the prison, it’s a much more chilly and stylized production, taking place in a city where there’s almost no-one around, except the main characters: that’s where it reminded me of Saviour much more. The fights are a similarly odd mix of wire-fu with ground ‘n’ pound, that are not badly put together: Mizuno occasionally looks the part with a fair degree of conviction, but there’s just too much which doesn’t so much defy expectation, as simply gets none at all.

On the plus side, this isn’t anywhere near as sleazy as some of the entries, which are more “women in prison” than “action heroine”. Despite the mud wrestling, and some costumes that definitely lean towards the exploitative, this is definitely in the latter camp. It’s not particularly outstanding, yet is worth a look if you’re feeling in a forgiving mood.

Dir: Joe Ma
Star: Miki Mizuno, Dylan Kuo, Emme Wong, Nana Natsume
a.k.a. Female Convict Scorpion

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