Ubisoft Presents Fantasia 2008

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"A throwback to the grand 1970s tradition of exploitation cinema ... a nasty piece of pulp" - HOLLYWOOD REPORTER


Director: Joe Ma
Screenplay: Ka Wing Lee, Joe Ma
Cast: Ryo Ishibashi, Dylan Kuo, Lam Suet, Sam Lee, Miki Mizuno, Simon Yam
Producers: Toji Kato, Shum Ka-Po
Distributor: Arclight/Easternlight


Get set for a scorching, two-fisted blast of Eastern estrogen fury as Hong Kong reinvents Japanese ’70s action icon Scorpion (longstanding Fantasia-heads will recall seeing series entry FEMALE CONVICT SCORPION JAILHOUSE 41 at the fest) in the confrontational image of ’80s and ’90s notorious HK Category III films! If you’re unfamiliar with the landmark originals, just know that their titular hero served as a key influence on Tarantino’s KILL BILL films. And that this eccentric redux is absolutely bloody insane! The political edge of the ’70s films has been largely dropped and the back story has been changed. In fact, this version of SASORI jumps through hoops to make itself its own outrageous beast, its purest link to the originals being in its firm positioning between Arthouse and Grindhouse, its structure and tone often being as radical as its set pieces.

A ruthless pack of thugs force mild-mannered, caught-in-the-middle-of-something-bigger Nami (Miki Mizuno) to murder her fiancee’s sister, decidedly ruining her pending marriage and landing the poor girl in the most brutal women’s prison you’ve ever seen. Inside the hellblocks, she decides to stop being a victim at all costs, and ends up becoming stronger and even more vicious than the craziest inmates in the pen. She eventually escapes in a most unusual way, gets valuable fight training from a mysterious mountain man (played by none other than Simon Yam, whose makeshift punching bags are a slew of sheet-wrapped cadavers ghoulishly suspended from trees!) and returns to the streets in order to make the thugs who ruined her life pay. HARD. By this time, Nami prefers to go by the name of Sasori (translation: Scorpion), and the film shifts gears to become a neon-drenched urban actioneer with ultraviolence and style to spare. SASORI is further proof that the glory days of inspired and unhinged HK cinema are coming back on a large scale. Wild, melodramatic subplots abound amidst the chaos and over-the-top fight scenes explode at volume 11, literally oozing pulp action grit—watch out for the notably untherapeutic use of a freshly-ripped-from-skull steel plate!

—Mitch Davis