Cinema Strikes BackContact

NewsReviewsDVD CalendarContestsFilm FestivalsMoviesPeopleInterviewsLinksAboutContact
NYAFF Report 7: Sasori
Posted on 06.29.08 by David @ 9:55 am

New York Asian Film Festival 2008

Country and Year: HK/Japan (2008)
Director: Joe Ma
Starring: Miki Mizuno, Emme Wong, Sam Lee, Bruce Leung, Lam Suet, Simon Yam, Ryo Ishibashi

Review By: David Austin
Rating: 3 out of 4 stars (good)


Sasori, a remake of the classic Japanese surreal exploitation series, Female Convict Scorpion, is a throwback to the trashy Hong Kong films of yesteryear. It’s actually better to put the fact that it’s a remake out of your mind – were it not for references like the title, the name of the main character being Nami Matsushima (the same as Meiko Kaji’s classic character) and the appropriation of the original’s theme song, “Uramibushi” over the end credits (though not in its original Kaji-sung version), I probably would not have even connected the two. Frankly, Sasori is better off without the comparison – while the plot outline is roughly similar, the feel and spirit of this film and the originals are very different.


Indeed, Sasori will inevitably suffer if comparison to the original. The first two Female Convict Scorpion films were flat-out exploitation masterpieces, something this film is not. Moreover, Meiko Kaji brought an untouchable cool and intensity to the lead role that newcomer Miki Mizuno cannot hope to equal. Kaji was the very essence of Woman Wronged – she rarely spoke but her very gaze was enough to shake her opponents. Mizuno’s interpretation is a weaker, far less iconic character.

Mizuno’s Nami is a mild-mannered woman who is attacked and then framed when her policeman boyfriend’s father is assassinated. The reasons behind the assault will be explained later (and don’t really make much sense or matter a whit) but the result is that Nami finds herself locked away, hated by her boyfriend, and a victim for every jailhouse thug she encounters. Only in prison does she learn to fight back. After being left for dead by the authorities, she is seemingly resurrected by the mysterious Corpse Collector, trained in kung fu, and sent out to wreak a terrible vengeance on those who wronged her.

As I said, though, Sasori has its own spirit and is performs well on its own terms. A better comparison would be the kinds of productions Hong Kong was notorious for in the 80’s and early 90’s – Sasori is far more Naked Killer than Female Convict Scorpion (I’m surprised Wong Jing did not have a hand in the film). This Japanese/Hong Kong co-production subverts the plot of the original into the Hong Kong idiom without a look backward.

Sasori also calls upon some serious Hong Kong and Japanese star power. Lam Suet cameos as the sleazy Warden and Simon Yam brings his customary freakiness to the role of the Corpse Collector (a similar role to that played in Story of Ricky by Tetsuro Tamba). Nami’s assailants are a mixed group of creepy killers –nerdy, glasses-wearing Cyonron (Sam Lee); mini-skirted Sen Sou (Emme Wong); uber-pimp Tetsujin; and freaky martial arts master Akagi (Bruce Leung). Sam Lee (of Dog Bite Dog and Bio-Zombie) and Bruce Leung (the toadlike Beast in Kung Fu Hustle) are particularly effective – Lee again shows he can disappear into a role, managing to conjure both pathos and genuine unease in his few scenes while Leung is a grotesque in Russian hat and clashing fingers full of rings – his duel with Nami on and in a moving truck is a high point of the film.

The jailhouse experience is a classic. Lam Suet plays the Warden in full pimping style, a la John Vernon in Chained Heat. Like Story of Ricky, there is no law and order in this jail, prisoners stage mud-wrestling bouts for the staff’s amusement and infractions can be punished in the most brutal of fashions. .Interestingly, for all the star power in the rest of the film, it is actually Nana Natsume as the vicious gang boss Dieyou who steals every scene she’s in. Dieyou is the one who torments Nami and forces her to turn into an unapologetic killer herself – their final confrontation in the jailhouse showers is brutal in a way the later, more stylized fights are not.


The fights, once past the sweaty fisticuffs of the prison scenes, are full on wire-fu fests straight out of the Hong Kong New Wave. Characters fly at each across the screen and every kick sends someone careening into a wall. Similarly the lighting of the film mimics that of early ‘80s Hong Kong horror. Lurid pinks, greens, yellows and reds compete to jaundice the screen. It’s as if the film took place on the old 42nd Street – raunchy and unapologetic.

Sadly, Mizuno is truly the weakest part of the film as Nami. She has a longstanding role in the popular Bayside Shakedown series and did a decent job as the lead human in the second modern Gamera film, but she is completely overmatched here. As an actress she is adequate, as a tough girl she fails. Part of it is the character as written – unlike the original, betrayed even by her lover, this Nami’s vengeance seems a little contrived – but more is the fault of Mizuno herself. Her characterization of Nami never grabs the screen with the energy of a Kaji or a Pam Grier, and she pales in comparison to Emme Wong and Nana Natsume’s ferocious turns. Fortunately, despite this central void, Sasori is a more than satisfactory experience – enough good surrounds Mizuno to compensate for her failings.

Recommended? Sasori, taken on its own terms, is a mean-spirited, trashy little film, and I mean that in the best way.

If you like this, you might like: Naked Killer, Shamo, Ebola Syndrome, The Cat, Story of Ricky, Female Convict Scorpion, Zero Woman – Red Handcuffs

© David Austin

Filed under: Movie Reviews and Movie Reviews: Hong Kong and People: Simon Yam and Film Festivals: New York Asian Film Festival 2008

No Comments »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a comment

Line and paragraph breaks automatic, e-mail address never displayed, HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>




Latest Movie News

WordPress database error: [Can't create/write to file '/tmp/#sql_c36_0.MYI' (Errcode: 30)]
SELECT DISTINCT * FROM wp_posts LEFT JOIN wp_post2cat ON (wp_posts.ID = wp_post2cat.post_id) WHERE wp_posts.post_date <= '2014-10-21 16:28:03' AND ( wp_posts.post_status = 'publish' OR wp_posts.post_status = 'sticky' ) AND wp_posts.post_password = '' AND ( wp_post2cat.category_id = '2' ) GROUP BY wp_posts.ID ORDER BY wp_posts.post_date DESC LIMIT 0, 5


* Shusuke Kaneko
* Malik Bader
* Nobuhiro Yamashita
* Sabu
* Johnnie To
* Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg & Nick Frost
* Bong Joon-Ho
Recent Comments
Dev: I think most of the obvious pleacs have all been used so much that
Anura Padeniya: The movie, Three Yellow Cats is available at Amazon with other Kommissar X movies, but
John Adams: MY TRIBUTE TO KUNG FU MASTER his movies are fantastic will miss JIM KELLY a
hans: David, you need to check your facts. Avid hk movie watchers will remember that Anthony
suresh: ramsay brothers plz make horror movie like veerana and tahkhana im huge fan of ur
Harry: Lot of homoeroticism in the film, as the retarded thugs eye off and grapple with
May: I love Death note and all about them. but, specially L. Lawliet and Matsuyama Kenichi. You're so
Michael Edgecumbe: Where can I obtain any form of copy of this film? It was shot in the
SANJEEV: How to get the site from i can download full HORROR MOVIE PURNA MANDIR could

Movie News
Hong Kong
New Zealand
South Korea

By Type:
DVD News
Movie Quotes
MP3 Podcasts
Production Info
Trailer News

External Article
External Interview

By Studio:
IFC Films
Milkyway Image
Shaw Brothers
Sony Pictures
Warner Bros.
More Studios >

Grind House

Adam's Apples
Casino Royale
Descent, The
Funky Forest
Pan's Labyrinth
Scanner Darkly, A
Superman Returns
Sympathy for Lady Vengeance

Latest Reviews

WordPress database error: [Can't create/write to file '/tmp/#sql_c36_0.MYI' (Errcode: 30)]
SELECT DISTINCT * FROM wp_posts LEFT JOIN wp_post2cat ON (wp_posts.ID = wp_post2cat.post_id) WHERE wp_posts.post_date <= '2014-10-21 16:28:03' AND ( wp_posts.post_status = 'publish' OR wp_posts.post_status = 'sticky' ) AND wp_posts.post_password = '' AND ( wp_post2cat.category_id = '8' ) GROUP BY wp_posts.ID ORDER BY wp_posts.post_date DESC LIMIT 0, 5

Movie Reviews
By Country:
Hong Kong
South Korea

By Rating:
Great ****
Good ***
Average **
Poor *

By Author:

By Guest Writer:
Mike G.
Mike M.

Cable Series

External Reviews

Argento, Dario
Bale, Christian
Chan-wook, Park
Cheh, Chang
Chow Sing Chi, Stephen
Craig, Daniel
Freeman, Morgan
Giamatti, Paul
Gilliam, Terry
Howard, Ron
Hark, Tsui
Jaa, Tony
Jackson, Peter
Jee-woon, Kim
July, Miranda
Kaige, Chen
Kar-wai, Wong
Kurosawa, Kiyoshi
Kuriyama, Chiaki
Lau, Andy
Miike, Takashi
Miyazaki, Hayao
Myung-se, Lee
Nolan, Christopher
Spielberg, Steven
Suzuki, Seijun
Tarantino, Quentin
To, Johnnie
Tse, Nicholas
Vaughn, Matthew
Yen, Donnie
Yeoh, Michelle
Yimou, Zhang
Ziyi, Zhang
More People >

  • 2014
  • 2013
  • 2012

  • RSS Syndication

    Add to Google

    Subscribe in NewsGator Online

    Add Cinema Strikes Back - Covering the World of Film to Newsburst from CNET

    Add to My AOL

    Add to netvibes

    Subscribe in Bloglines

    Add to The Free Dictionary

    Add to Bitty Browser

    Add to Plusmo

    Subscribe in podnova

    Credits and Copyright
    Proudly powered by WordPress. All content © 2004-2005 Cinema Strikes Back.
    Theme by Theron Parlin