Prisoner #701 Scorpion: Beast Stable
In fact, it is, perhaps, unfair to evaluate the movie solely by comparing it with those preceding it. The director does tell an engaging story and does bring out the sorrows of his characters' lives. Matsu's troubles, which are the focus of the film's narrative, are effectively exposed. The moviegoer cannot help but be aware of the pitiful conditions of her existence and the extremes to which she goes in order to survive, both of which make her a truly sympathetic figure. Even though she is rarely a helpless victim, but is, instead, active in fighting to defend herself, her heroic acts of self-defense are felt more deeply by the viewer as a result of his compassion for her. The protagonist is hardly the only person likely to arouse the moviegoer's sympathies, however. Ito also repeatedly shows him the miseries other women endure. There are two others whose agonies are particularly well delineated. The first of these is Yuki, who is victimized both by her mentally handicapped brother and by the gangsters who beat her for working as a prostitute in their territory without paying them. The second is another prostitute who, having become pregnant, is forced to have an abortion, and dies as a consequence of the procedure, which is preformed by an incompetent surgeon.
In addition to such affecting elements, there are some genuinely exciting moments in Female Prisoner #701 Scorpion: Beast Stable. From the initial confrontation between the heroine and the policemen who try to capture her to the woman's flight from the police through the sewers, the film includes a number of intense and often grisly thrills. These are hardly its only violent and exciting sequences. There several scenes of gruesome cruelty as well. At one point, Matsu instigates the girlfriend of a gangster - who had threatened to expose the protagonist to the police if she refused his sexual advances - to throw boiling water in that man's face. Later, the heroine is captured, drugged, and thrown into a cage filled with birds along with a dying prostitute, whose demise inspires Matsu to escape and get revenge upon the gang leaders who have caused such suffering, killing each of them in turn.
Happily, most of the performances are effective and add to the movie's appeal. Kaji is impressive as the silent, intense heroine, although there are, admittedly, times when her character could have benefited from greater amounts of dialogue. Some of the supporting players actually outshine her. Yayoi Watanabe brings a sense of desperation to her portrayal of Yuki, and Reisen Lee, who plays the film's flamboyant and sadistic antagonist, is a campy delight.
Female Prisoner #701 Scorpion: Beast Stable, whatever its virtues, is told in a fairly conventional way. It is not complemented with the captivating images of the two earlier movies. There are some appealingly shot sequences, but there are never the strange, even surreal images Ito has shown himself capable of creating. What this means is that the film is never as captivating as those works are.
Although I cannot recommend Female Prisoner #701 Scorpion: Beast Stable as highly as I can the films preceding it, it is still an engaging movie that is worth seeing.
Review by Keith Allen
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