When Ryou ends up in the same prison her sister died in, she learns of a supernatural element that has put fear in the minds of many prisoners.
What They Say
They took her identity. They took her freedom. Now, in a man-made labyrinth of concrete and steel, where terrified young women are stripped of their pasts and humanity, she has been reduced to the level of prey. Prey for the ancient evil that lurks inside the walls of this penitentiary; an invisible hunter that stalks the halls of the damned, feeding on the tortured souls within. Against this unnamable horror, the inmate known as Sigma must face a fate beyond her worst nightmares; something far more terrifying than anything the brutal guards and corrupt wardens could imagine. Because unknown to them, sigma has come to this place on a mission of her own. There's something far worse than death inside this prison, and it's waiting for female prisoner Sigma!
Switchblade Pictures has decided not to dub their releases at this time so this feature is presented in its original Japanese stereo language form only. Encoded at 224kbps, it’s pretty standard material when it comes to the audio department as it’s a basic stereo channel mix without anything really resembling strong directionality. Without too much in the way of depth, there’s nothing that stands out strongly here but it’s conveyed well and it rather does suit the material. We didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback of the presentation.
Originally released in 2006, the transfer for this feature is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 but is not enhanced for anamorphic playback. Done on video rather than film, the feature looks decent but is hampered by source issues. The feature doesn’t have much of anything in the way of cross coloration which is a definite plus, but with the source material being what it is, we do see a lot of grain. Some of it is stronger in some scenes rather than others, and during then it’s very strong though it seems to be somewhat intentional. The darkly lit rooms that come up on occasion is where it’s the worst, and when you combine that with a non-anamorphic print it looks pretty fuzzy. It does add to that whole cheap nature that the production obviously is, and it fits with it well enough, but it’s very distracting on larger screens, especially if you’re zooming in because of the non-anamorphic aspect.
The cover design for this release is similar to other Switchblade Pictures releases with the simple black framing and the mentioning of it being an unrated limited edition. Within there, the visual is one that certainly will jump off of you at the shelves as it features a prisoner with a bloody blade in her hand holding it behind her back. With blood over her and her underwear torn in multiple places, it’s a striking image, even if it has no place within the film itself. The back cover is nicely done as well as the left half is done up with a picture of Shoko Hamada bound and on her knees in her underwear as well as a few other shots from the show. The right side has a shadowed image of a woman with knife in hand underneath the summary of the films premise and the production credits. Unfortunately, the summary gives away far too much and makes revelations (that are admittedly obvious) that it shouldn't about what's going on. The bottom portion runs through a fairly standard technical grid which is also clear about what kind of material it is. No inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
None, it just goes right into the feature. After the feature ends, it hits the DVD production credits menu, then a Switchblade Pictures logo screen and then it stops the disc.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Switchblade Pictures continues to work the sexploitation film genre pretty well as they’ve mined another beauty here with Female Prisoner Sigma. This time around, rather than ninjas, they’ve gone for the women in prison angle which always works well. I wonder how long until we see them dabble in some Japanese nunsploitation live action material? It’s sometimes surprising just how many views those kinds of reviews get in comparison to a lot of mainstream shows.
Female Prisoner Sigma is a vehicle for its start, Shoko Hamada, who is mentioned on the back cover as being “Miss Telegenic Japan” as well as being a popular race queen. What better thing to put a telegenic young woman in than an oppressive women’s prison flick. As Ryou, she arrives in the prison where her sister died sometime not too long ago after failing to kill a man who had wronged her in some way. Ryou’s sister’s death is surprising since she was intending to get out after her short time in there and finish the job. She had a goal and was biding her time in order to achieve it. When Ryou finds out that she committed suicide in there, she finished the job her sister couldn’t and requested to be put in the same prison her sister was in.
I didn’t think you could request your prison of preference.
Once inside, Ryou falls into the pattern of adapting to the place and learning the routine. The prison is fairly standard as these kinds of films go as it has a mixed gender group of guards and the authoritative warden who has at least one or two of the female prisoners as his sexual attendant. One of them is in fact in the group of five that Ryou is placed with and we see her pleasing the warden on one occasion. This is, in fact, the only actual sex scene within the feature, though nothing more than breasts and some posterior are shown in terms of skin. It’s through this woman that the warden gets a feel for what’s going on within the other prisoners and figures out which ones to use for his needs.
Those needs are what’s causing the regular stir among the prisoners as it seems that there’s always someone meeting a tragic end along the way for various reasons. Ryou’s sister was one of those, and now that Ryou is here she’s starting to see a bit of a pattern. In order to figure it out though, she has to get closer to the warden by becoming his dog. Talk of the prison being haunted by something is a regular fixture in the dialogue as they discuss past events, but there’s another twist as well. There’s talk among some of the prisoners of a female prisoner named Sigma who travels from prison to prison to right the wrongs put upon women in the system. With this being the title of the film, it’s little surprise as to what’s really going on here and the story is very easily telegraphed almost from the start. There are some nice little nods towards the end, but it plays out in very predictable fashion.
Female Prisoner Sigma is a fairly tame title overall with only one softcore sex scene to it, but it complements it with a lot of the standard women in prison material. Lots of dressing downs, not always resulting in nudity, lots of control and several moments where they’re smacked around in various ways. The core storyline takes an amusing twist along the way as the supernatural element is explored and it’s entirely amusing because of how campy and amateurish it’s done. This feature looks to have been made to capitalize on Shoko Hamada and I’m not quite sure it got near that actually. She’s certainly attractive, but the location, the costume design and the sexuality of it when it comes to her is fairly restrained. It doesn’t cast her in the best of light, especially for someone who won Miss Telegenic Japan. Women in prison fans will certainly be thrilled by this though, especially if they haven’t been exposed to the Japanese side of it before.
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.