Sasori

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A reboot of Ito Shunya's 1972 Japanese women in prison film "Female Prisoner #701: Scorpion" (itself based on a manga by Toru Shinohara), "Sasori" is a twice-removed throwback to the grand 1970s tradition of exploitation cinema. Though cut from the same cloth as its inspiration, "Caged Heat" and "Black Mama, White Mama," the film lacks a context to work within, ultimately rendering it a nasty piece of B pulp with few redeeming qualities.

There is limited boxoffice appeal for "Sasori," which is likely to get slapped with a Category III rating (Hong Kong's version of NC-17), but it could potentially appeal to genre festivals and see something of a life on DVD.

Nami (Mizuno Miki, "Bayside Shakedown") is happily engaged to a cop, Hei Tai (Dylan Kuo). This is made evident with plenty of languid close-ups as they lounge around in a highly stylized bedroom awaiting a visit from his father and sister. Things go downhill when three thugs, led by Akagi (Bruce Leung), break into their home intent on killing the father. Don't ask why. Nami is given a gruesome choice: Kill the sister or Hei Tai dies.

This being an exploitation film, the prison is run by a perverted warden (Lam Suet) and is populated by the worst of the worst. After some mud wrestling and a shower room throw-down, the prison staff leaves Nami for dead in the woods to be saved by the Corpse Collector (Simon Yam), who trains her in preparation for her revenge.

Director Joe Ma is more widely known for his romantic comedies than for hard-core action, and it shows. When "Sasori" isn't disjointed and mean-spirited (there's an unhealthy obsession with women being stabbed in the genital area), it tries to be a tragic romance and, for the most part, fails. Kuo makes for a dull male lead, and Mizuno lacks the fiery strength needed for this kind of feminine (some would say neo-feminist) avenger.
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