Female Prisoner 701: Scorpion

Female Prisoner 701: Scorpion ★★★★½

"What is it like to be a Woman?"

Genre cinema frequently asks this question of viewers. In genre it is used as an empathizing technique to ask audiences to identify with a victim and her eventual conflict. By getting viewers to see themselves as the women of these movies filmmakers create a funnel that cycles into tension, horror, action and eventual catharsis through resolution, but what of female audience members? Women already know what it's like to be a woman. We know the feeling of being followed down a side walk for an uncomfortable amount of time. We understand the jeers of men who make comments about our bodies, because this isn't something we go to the cinema to feel, but it's something innate in our own experiences. Rape-revenge cinema takes this question to it's natural endpoint, and these films at their best emphatically strike back at cultural norms, but far too often they merely reinforce rape and the gendered power dynamics therein. When mixed with the sensationalism of exploitation cinema these movies can tread on shaky ground that sexualize the act of rape, which is a purely evil act in cinematic terms. Female Prisoner #701: Scorpion avoids many of these pitfalls through formal complexity and an understanding that rape is not something to be taken lightly, but instead a problem so paramount in female experiences that an angel of death had to be made for women scorned everywhere. A woman who existed as a blade in the hand of every woman who was ever sexually taken advantage of by a man. That Woman was named Nami Matsushima (Meiko Kaji), and she was known as the Scorpion."

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tw: rape, rave revenge movies, rape culture

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