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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Female Convict Scorpion aka Sasori [Blu-ray]


(Joe Ma, 2008)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Art Port

Video: Tokyo Shock



Region: 'A' (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:40:44.747

Disc Size: 24,294,976,268 bytes

Feature Size: 22,855,538,688 bytes

Video Bitrate: 24.97 Mbps

Chapters: 8

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: April 10th, 2012



Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio Cantonese 2180 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2180 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio Cantonese 1333 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1333 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit)



English (SDH), none



Original Trailer (1:40)





Description: An ordinary woman is transformed into a fighting machine in the wake of a shocking crime in this action drama from Japan. Sasori (Miki Mizuno) is a housewife happily married to a policeman (Dylan Kuo) who plays guitar in his spare time. One day, a gang of violent criminals break into Sasori's home and take hold of her husband as Sasori is goaded into murdering his sister. When the police arrive, Sasori is arrested as her husband sits in stunned silence. Convicted of murder, Sasori must prove her mettle against the tough-as-nails inmates at a grim women's prison, but the former housewife reveals she can give as good as she gets in a fight. Sasori runs afoul of the prison staff and the warden (Lam Suet) exiles her into a woodland just outside the prison grounds, where she's isolated with little hope of escape. To Sasori's surprise, she encounters a hermit known as the Corpse Collector (Simon Yam), who gives her a crash course in the martial arts and helps her escape. Sasori fights her way back to civilization and tracks down her husband, who is now playing with a rock band at a night spot, while his wife is determined to get revenge for being sent through hell.



The Film:

Joe Ma's Sasori is a film that comes with all sorts of expectations and baggage attached being, as it is, not only a restart but also something of a re-envisioning of the classic 1970's Japanese exploitation series Female Convict Scorpion 701. It should come as no surprise then that reactions to the film have been sharply polarized, that this is a film that people either love or hate, but what is a bit surprising is why. It's not that the film has in any way toned down the exploitation elements, those are there in spades. It's not the fusion of Hong Kong and Japanese influences, that was expected with the film coming out of the ongoing partnership between Hong Kong's Sameway and Japan's Art Port and it falls in nicely with the bleak, hard edged 1980's aesthetic already established in Shamo and Dog Bite Dog. No, the dividing factor is that Ma tells his story in a very abstract, almost impressionistic style that you expect from an arthouse picture rather than an exploitation grinder. In many ways the criticisms against this film are the same as those leveled against recent films such as Susie Au's Ming Ming and Phillip Yankovsky's Sword Bearer, criticisms stemming from the same basic issue. Well, I am a big admirer and supporter of both of those other films so it should come as no surprise that I am also very much on the love side for Sasori as well.

Excerpt from Todd Brown at Twitch located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Female Convict Scorpion has style all over the place from intentional heavy grain-like appearance to indiscriminant Grindhouse scratches. Via the Blu-ray from Media Blasters - the 1080P handles this variety but it's hard to know where to identify intended noise from transfer limitations. I presume the faded look is part of the style - and that the single-layered rendering with nominal bitrate is reporting a reasonably faithful appearance.  A lot of this is dull, flat and contrast can be over-saturated - but it is so extensive that it must be an homage to the original - methinks. It was entertaining to watch - from some rapid cuts and telling much of the story visually and through flashbacks (in the beginning). This is all kinda cool but this isn't a Blu-ray that you would use to show-off your system. Female Convict Scorpion, intentionally or not, can look quite poor.
















Audio :

So I've been informed that the original audio for the film is in Japanese but the menu claims the 2 options are for Cantonese - both tracks via DTS-HD Master in 5.1 or 2.0. Trouble is there is very little dialogue - this story is told, predominantly, through vignettes. During the spare dialogue I didn't notice DUB sync issues. Of course there are a ton of effects - even beyond the fighting. A fair amount of crispness and potent depth. There are optional English subtitles in a bright yellow font (se sample below).


Extras :

Trailer and previews. Nutt'in more.



Stacked with perversions from bondage to mud-wrestling Female Convict Scorpion will appeal to... some. I was appreciative of the arthouse attempt but the second-half devolved into plenty of flying ballet fight sequences. I thought the film conceptually had some potential - reminding me of the Women in Cages set with our protagonist beset with unspeakable horrors while incarcerated. So, despite all its weaknesses and crass exploitation - I was surprised at how good it was. The Blu-ray is 'kind-of' a recommendation to those who might be keen enough to give it a spin. Being, basically, bare-bones it does seem pricey for what is offered. 

Gary Tooze

May 17th, 2012


About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

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Gary W. Tooze





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