Wednesday, November 2, 2011

WIP Wednesday: Grudge Song: Female Prisoner #701 Scorion (Yasuharu Hasebe, 1973)

The final Meiko Kaji edition of the numerous Female Prisoner #701 films is Grudge Song, aka Joshû Sasori: 701-Gô Urami-Bushi, and it makes it clear how the series inspired Quentin Tarrantino's Kill Bill films. I don't want to go over this one too much, save that yet again Nami "Scorpion" Matsushima has escaped from prison and is hunted by obsessive policemen. This time she has a male partner, a '60s radical who was tortured by the police and left badly, and humiliatingly scarred.

Rather than discuss the story itself, I have been thinking about an overall theme to the films, and how they might relate to post World War II Japan. Scorpion has many admirable traits. She is tough and resilient, as well as deadly. She has great cunning about her. Her strongest trait, as made most clear in the first film, is that Nami Matsushima cannot be broken. In a way I believe this makes her representative of hard line Imperial Japanese. She is beaten, even defeated, but never broken. In this vein, the police and prison guards represent the American occupying force, which after their victory attempted to castrate Japan with the abolition of its military. Enemy prisoners, and other enemies of Matsushima might be considered as traitors, or enemies of Japan. Like Matsu, Japan did not go quietly, they merely changed weapons and began fighting back with money instead of arms. They are certainly not the crushed nation we might have seen, despite being the only nation in our history that is the victim of nuclear assault.

Again, I highly recommend these films. This one is particularly good, but I have not been disappointed with one yet.

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