Female Prisoner Scorpion: The Complete Collection Blu-ray review

We've heard of the jailhouse blues, but this Blu-ray boxset takes things a bit too far...

Welcome to the world of 'Pinky Violence'. The result of mixing together two different aspects of Japanese exploitation cinema –  the brutality of Yakuza crime films and the sensuality of so-called 'Pink' erotic flicks – the 'Pinky Violence' genre blossomed in the 1970s as Japanese studios attempted to woo local audiences into cinemas with something that their TV couldn't give them. Standing tallest of all in this genre was the deadly female convict known by friends and enemies alike as Scorpion.

Based on the manga by Toru Shinohara, the extremely stylish Female Prisoner #701: Scorpion (1972) introduced theatre-goers to the taciturn Sasori/Scorpion (Meiko Kaji), the former girlfriend of a corrupt cop who set her up to be raped as part of a plan to bust a rival gang. Ending up in prison herself, Sasori fends off other inmates and sadistic guards while planning her revenge. A slick mixture of art and sleaze, the film was a hit with audiences and three sequels followed in quick succession.

Female Prisoner Scorpion: Jailhouse 41 (1972) is arguably the best of the bunch and finds Scorpion and six other inmates on the run in an increasingly surreal story culminating in a brutal bus hijacking. Female Prisoner Scorpion: Beast Stable (1973) saw series director Shunya Ito bow out with a nightmarish film involving incest, a one-armed policeman and a vicious female hoodlum. Director Yasuharu Hasebe took the reins for Meiko Kaji's swansong as Sasori, Female Prisoner Scorpion: #701's Grudge Song (1973). A slightly more down-to-earth effort, the film lacks the visual flair and over-the-top lunacy of earlier instalments in the series.

Picture: Arrow's four 2.35:1 Blu-ray encodes are  based on a set of low-contrast 35mm prints supplied by Toei Studios and the results are… problematic. Not only are there major issues with grain structure and density, the films (especially the sequels) exhibit a very strong cyan push to the colour palette that is not only utterly unnatural, but is unlike any versions of the films that we've seen before.
Picture rating: 2.5/5

Audio: Each title features a restored LPCM 1.0 mono Japanese soundtrack that does the best with the source material. Perfectly acceptable stuff, but hardly likely to get your pulse racing.
Audio rating: 3.5/5

Extras: Arrow's boxset includes fan appreciations, interviews and trailers for each movie, plus visual essays about actress Meiko Kaji and the …Scorpion franchise, a poster and a 56-page booklet.
Extras rating: 3.5/5

We say: Problematic transfers take the shine off an otherwise great set for fans of 'Pinky Violence' flicks.

Female Prisoner Scorpion: The Complete Collection, Arrow Video, Region B BD & R2 DVD, £60