The New Fish

» Riot (2015, USA)

riot-0

It surely can’t be coincidental that in 2015 we had the release of two prison movies in which a cop whose wife has been killed by a big-time criminal commits a major offence to get into prison to avenge his wife’s murder; the other being Vendetta. Perhaps the same story was pitched to several film-makers, and these two just happened to pick it up… unaware that the other had, too. Anyway, I’m not sure which I like better.. but this certainly wins in the novelty stakes.

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Posted on April 19th, 2016 at 9:49 pm. Updated on April 19th, 2016 at 9:52 pm.

» Vendetta (1986, USA)

Vendetta - Karen Chase as Laurie Collins, with a wrist lock on Kay Butler (Sandy Martin)

Vendetta has all the standard ’80s trademarks you’d expect - prisoners with big hair and wearing workout gear like they’d just stepped out of a Flashdance or Let’s Get Physical video - but no-one (at least in prison) seems to be held accountable for much. Wasn’t glasnost an ’80s thing? (more…)

Posted on March 21st, 2016 at 8:00 pm. Updated on March 21st, 2016 at 8:00 pm.

» Cell 213 (2011, Canada)

Cell 213 - Eric Balfour as Michael Gray and Michael Rooker as Ray Clement

It’s a bit hard to pin a label on this film. Completed in 2008, it took another three years to release it, marketed ultimately as a horror movie. But it’s more a supernatural movie; horror film buffs will inevitably be disappointed by it, and those who aren’t (such as myself) might be pleasantly surprised. (more…)

Posted on November 30th, 2015 at 9:20 pm. Updated on November 30th, 2015 at 9:20 pm.

» Jailbird Rock (1988, USA / Argentina)

Jailbird Rock - Robin Antin as Jessie White and Robin x as Echo

I think it was when Warden Harold Bauman (Ron Lacey), in dismissing any idea of his prisoners putting on an artistic performance, said, “They’re not here to have fun. They’re here to be miserable,” that my wife asked, “Don’t you get sick of the same, same things all the time?”. Or it could have been earlier, such as at the arrival of the prisoner who doesn’t deserve to be in prison, or the tough prisoner running the show, or the ineffectual warden and his corrupt second-in-charge, or the earnest counsellor pushing for reform… It could have been at any point in the film, really. (more…)

Posted on November 22nd, 2015 at 5:10 pm. Updated on November 22nd, 2015 at 5:12 pm.

» Prison War 2 (2014, Nigeria / Ghana)

Prison War 2 - Salamatu Kargbo as Isha Kamara

I haven’t previously had much luck with Nollywood or Ghallywood offerings; their prison-themed films seem to me to be shot almost entirely in people’s living rooms. But this is a bona fide prison movie, set in Sierra Leone, accessible on YouTube, and is one that ensures you get your money’s worth: it is a traditional new fish in prison movie which morphs into a Fight Club movie and ends up as an escape movie. And even pauses at one point for a sweet song which includes the lyric, “When I kill is bad but I found pleasure doing it” before urging the listener to stay out of trouble. (more…)

Posted on October 31st, 2015 at 8:11 pm. Updated on November 1st, 2015 at 9:36 am.

» Kalima Sharaf / Word of Honour (1972, Egypt)

Word of Honor - Ahmed Mazhar as the Warden and Farid Shawki as Salem Abu El-Naga

It’s refreshing, I guess, to have a prison movie about relationships that doesn’t involve a prisoner coupled with a guard or a doctor or psychologist. Instead, this features two solid, admirable relationships built on trust. Or maybe one that is solid, and one that appeared solid. And two that are not. (more…)

Posted on October 24th, 2015 at 4:59 pm. Updated on October 24th, 2015 at 4:59 pm.

» Prison Break: The Final Break (2009, USA)

Prison Break: The Final Break - Aisha Hands as Guard Cowler and Sarah Wayne Callies as Dr Sara Tancredi

Not the TV series, exactly, but what was (until they announced a new season to run in 2016) the final feature-length Prison Break episode, which is supposed to stand on its own and be like a condensed fifth season. It’s a little tricky for me; I watched the first series, enjoyed it, but immediately lost interest once it went into a second, third and fourth season. There are consequently a few gaps in my understanding of what happened in-between, which Mr Google has since been kind enough to attempt to fill. (more…)

Posted on October 18th, 2015 at 3:41 pm. Updated on October 18th, 2015 at 3:48 pm.

» Vendetta (2015, USA)

Vendetta - Dean Cain as Mason Danvers and Paul 'The Big Show' Wight as Victor Abbott

I feel for Dean Cain. I’m sure he wants to play serious prison roles, but in Dogboys (1998) he got to play an ex-Marine fighting killer prison dogs, and in New Alcatraz (2001) he had to play a palaeontologist fighting a giant prehistoric prison snake. Here he gets to play an ex-cop fighting a killer prison giant. (more…)

Posted on September 28th, 2015 at 9:47 pm. Updated on September 28th, 2015 at 9:49 pm.

» Révolte dans la prison / Big House (1931, France / USA)

Big House - Charles Boyer as John Morgan and Andre Berley as Butch

Some films are remakes of originals. But from the pre-subtitles era, this French-language version of the classic The Big House (1930) is not just a remake, but the same film, shot-for-shot, with French actors substituted for American. Well, not exactly shot-for-shot; in one of the last scenes, John Morgan (Charles Boyer) has his right arm in a sling, while in the American version (and, for that matter, the Spanish-language version, El Presidio), it’s on his left. Mind you, in the very final scene (taken straight from the original US version) Morgan’s sling has dramatically switched sides. I’m not sure which side is preferred in the German version, Menschen hinter Gittern.

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Posted on September 19th, 2015 at 10:07 pm. Updated on September 23rd, 2015 at 10:07 pm.

» Blackbird (2012, Canada)

Blackbird - Connor Jessup as Sean Randall

It might not be perfectly sensible to liken a person unable to escape bullying to a person trapped in prison. The bullied Sean Randall chose the one way he thought he could fight his way out of feeling that trapped. Then he went to prison and was bullied there, too. So he wanted out, desperately, but on being released was subject to restrictions that made him feel he was back in prison. Tricky.

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Posted on August 4th, 2015 at 9:16 pm. Updated on August 4th, 2015 at 9:16 pm.