Sent to prison for a murder she didn’t commit, Nami finds herself besieged on all sides as she tries to stand by her principles.
What They Say
Welcome to the Big House! It looks like any other prison, but this specialized penitentiary was designed from the ground up to hold Japan's most ruthless female inmates. That makes it doubly deadly, because while the guards may be brutal and ... Full Descriptionsadistic, the inmates outnumber them by a hundred to one! At any second the final, fatal riot may erupt, stoking the flames of a thousand forbidden into an all consuming inferno where it's every woman for herself! The shocking reality of Japan's secret prison system is exposed in Woman Prisoner 42!
Japan's deadliest women's prison houses some of the nation's most sadistic criminals, who just happen to greatly outnumber the guards. As a large-scale riot is about to occur, only Prisoner #42 knows the truth about what's really going down.
Like most Switchblade Pictures releases at this time, there is only the original Japanese stereo language track here which is encoded at 224kbps. It’s a serviceable enough track considering the show is really little more than the dialogue in it and a few basic fight scenes, so it doesn’t really require more. The budget feel of the show is certainly evident enough in general but most of these kinds of films are like this to begin with. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout however and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally released in 2007, the transfer for this feature is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 but is not enhanced for anamorphic playback. The materials do look pretty good overall though with little in the way of noticeable noise or background issues with edge enhancement. Colors are pretty solid and the black levels are good looking as well. Though it won’t leap off the screen at you, it definitely has more of a video look than a film look and the letterbox approach of it just pushes that whole budget feeling. It’s not a bad looking transfer in the slightest, but it’s one that won’t really draw you in all that much either.
The cover art for this release follows standard Switchblade Pictures design with a simple black and red border surrounding the poster piece inside. Inside that framing we get a very good shot of Nami in her prison garb looking very serious while the background has one of the torture scenes with a prisoner and guard. The cover also has a lot of blood splatters on it which adds to the violent look nicely with the rough logo. The back cover is well done also as it has a prison feel with chain links as the dividers for each of the sections. The summary pretty basic but gets the job done and there’s a really good set and layout of pictures in the middle that showcase the feature without much obscured. The bottom is given over to some basic production information and a good technical grid that covers everything. No show related inserts are provided nor is there a reversible cover.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Sometimes the fun of these budget films can be in seeing which films you’ve seen this before. Chain Gang Girls, originally titled “Nami – Shared Cell 42,” uses the same set we saw in Female Prisoner Sigma but with a fresh coat of paint a bit more light to it. And they took out that entire weird supernatural angle as well. Chain Gang Girls plays it more by the numbers as it deals with a new prisoner who managed to stir her fellow cellmates into action because, gosh darn it, women just want to be loved.
Chain Gang Girls revolves around the newest inmate to arrival, Nami. Nami’s not had it easy to be sure as she’s been framed for a murder she didn’t commit. When her boyfriend, an up and coming prosecutor, ends up getting his secret girlfriend pregnant, he sets things up so that Nami arrives on the scene and takes the fall for it. While Nami certainly doesn’t deserve to take the rap for murder, she deserves a rap to be certain since when she sees the body the first thing she does is to grab the knife by the handle and yank it out. Nothing like putting your fingerprints all over the crime scene. So off to prison Nami goes and her boyfriend, Kyosuke Kagami, gets away scot free. Even worse, his position is one that has jurisdiction over this prison so he’s able to call in a few favors from the warden.
When Nami enters the prison, it’s not a fun place to be for sure. The cell she shares with four other women has them practically beating her up the second she walks in since she doesn’t introduce herself properly. Though Nami was framed for the murder, she’s got a vicious side to her and can handle herself well. What saves her is that the apparent leader of the cell, Azusa, likes her and intends to fight her one on one eventually. So begins the hazing of the new inmate as they try to convince her to join their particular clique. The women of cells 42 and 43 have a longstanding thing (never defined!) against the women in cells 44 and 45. So much so that they’ve been escalating events against each other for awhile with planted weapons and more that get each side thrown into disciplinary for various lengths of time. And now Nami must agree to join that clique.
Except, she doesn’t. She stands for herself against such things and doesn’t want to be drawn into it. It doesn’t cause too much trouble for the others, but she gets a heaping of problems from the guards and the warden. They intend to beat her down and make her fifteen year sentence a living hell, unless she plays ball (or with two of them) with the warden. Through the manipulation of many, she’s put through the wringer when it comes to discipline and other actions from both guards and prisoners alike. But she never backs down from her beliefs and she holds firm no matter what’s thrown her way. As her story unfolds, she becomes an interesting to character to watch as she mostly suffers in silence and with no intent to really try and convince anyone else of her story. She simply tells it.
Chain Gang Girls works well as its lead is played by Yuka Kosaka. She’s certainly attractive enough but she has enough of an edge to her personality her and her looks to make what she does believable. She’s the kind of woman who can look at soft and friendly in the real world, but once put in this environment after what her boyfriend did to her, seeing this side of her works just as well. She manages to play out both sides very well, though I would have liked to have seen more of her life on the outside. And unlike most of the other women here, she doesn’t bare all that much of herself overall and really does her best to make a stand for herself. While certainly not a deep character, she is one that feels a bit more dimensional that a lot of the women in prison characters we tend to see.
Chain Gang Girls is a fairly decent women’s prison movie but it falls into familiar traps along the way. This one even more so since we had recently seen Female Prisoner Sigma which looks to have been done on the same set, just with a different coat of paint. There’s not a lot that you can do differently with these kinds of movies so it comes down to the characters. But when you have a lot of the same routine in a small confined space, and you’re basically just trying to make a softcore flick with a bit of violence, you’re not stretching yourself much either. This certainly isn’t a bad flick from the genre, and the lead manages to retain more of her principles than most, but there isn’t a whole lot to this overall either. Fans of the genre will likely enjoy it, but it doesn’t stand out beyond that in any way.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.