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  • Writer's pictureKelly M. Hudson

The Scorpion's Grudge!

The police catch Matsu (Meiko Kaji) as she is at a wedding, and a great fight ensues. She goes on the run again, the cops in hot pursuit, finding an escape underground using the sewer system and a construction site. She eventually ends up inside a closet in a strip club, hurt and bleeding. She is found by Kudo (Masakazu Tamura), who is a former student radical and works at the club now. He was also tortured and abused at the hands of the police and he has the scars to show for it. Matsu and Kudo bond and she gives him her trust, seeing as they come from the same set of circumstances. Kudo decides to renew his struggle against the government and she joins him, only for Kudo to be captured yet again and tortured until he gives up where Matsu is hiding. The police find her, and the cruel detective that has been hunting her down promises she will be executed soon. And so Matsu finds herself back where it all began, in a prison, locked away, waiting for her hanging. Through a series of machinations, she manages to escape again, and this time, she’s seeking revenge not only against the cruel police detective, but for the lover who wronged her.

Female Prisoner Scorpion: #701’s Grudge Song is the last of the series and the first to feature a different director (Yasuharu Hasebe) but doesn’t miss a step stylistically or thematically from the others. In fact, if you didn’t know there was a different director, you wouldn’t be able to tell much of a difference. This story returns back to the original, both in style and content. Matsu is wronged by a man she loves and she must make him pay, which is the general story of the first film. This one is perhaps more tragic because she has found someone who she believes she can genuinely bond with, and does. But like all the other movies, the men here are weak and ineffectual, from her lover Kudo to the possessed police detective that is hunting her down. The women don’t fare much better, either. In the world of Scorpion, there is only betrayal, loneliness, and revenge.

While this film treads the same ground as the others, and not much new is revealed, it doesn’t feel like a rehashing. Still fresh and exciting, this is a good end to the series, leaving us with Matsu free and facing an uncertain future. Best to end it here before things become stale and they start having to do extraordinary things to keep the stories coming (they were already verging on the edges of that, anyway). And thus closes a quartet of finely-filmed, thrilling and exciting pictures. The Female Prisoner series is one of violence, of torture, of self-determination and perseverance. Mostly, it’s feminist as fuck, with a protagonist who does whatever it takes to not only survive in this insane, patriarchal world, but to thrive. Matsu is a true hero, no more deranged than the world that is oppressing her, and Meiko Kaji is amazing in the role. A series worth seeing over and over again, it is currently streaming on Shudder.


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