New Female Prisoner Scorpion 701 (1976)

You think reboots are something new? The Japanese have something to tell you: It wasn’t Puffy Daddy who invented the remix. They waited just three years to retell the story of Scorpion with a new director (Yu Kohira, who also directed Sonny Chiba’s Dragon Princess) and a new, more talkative version of the lead thanks to actress Yumi Takigawa. Believe it or not, the talking makes sense, as Scorpion is foul-mouthed in the manga (and she’s also a busty blonde, but that’s another story.

Nami Matsushima has a happy life and a great boyfriend. If you know anything about the woman who will one day become Scorpion, that’s all about to change. Her sister uncovers some major corruption before she’s killed and her boyfriend frames her for the crime, sending her to 15 years in the “monkey house” as they call it in Japan.

After being bullied, Nami soon gets a mean streak. The politicians want to murder her and make it look like a suicide to clean up any loose ends, but there’s no way she’s ready to die without a fight.

I really liked the way the courtroom scene was shot, with characters almost made up with kabuki makeup, fast zooms, synthesizer music and a narrow shaft of light over Nami’s face. Also — this movie has the hippest 70’s rock soundtrack you’ve heard since Ron Burgundy learned jazz flute.

At first, I wasn’t really up for a Scorpion movie with a new actress, but then there came a scene where she lit another inmate who tried to kill her on fire — despite her begging for her life. That’s the Scorpion I know and love!

There’s really no need to remake the other films in this series, but that’s not taking anything away from this one. I really liked it once it got going and enjoyed the soundtrack and scenes of Scorpion becoming the avenging near supernatural force that she became by the third film in the original saga.

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