The New Fish

» 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.


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.


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

» Bad Girls: The Musical (2009, UK)

Bad Girls: The Musical - Caroline Head as Nikki Wade and Laura Rogers as Helen Stewart

OK, OK… like the odd filmed play or opera about prison on DVD, this might not strictly fit the definition of a prison movie. But it’s not so different to many movies that are filmed in studios with disjointed plots, shoddy sets and stagy dialogue. (more…)

Posted on August 2nd, 2015 at 8:18 pm. Updated on September 19th, 2015 at 10:45 pm.

» Rise (2014, Australia)

Rise - Nathan Wilson as Will McIntyre and Martin Sacks as Jimmy Cove

You know how sometimes one scene or one line in a movie just loses you, and you can’t find a way back in? Early in Rise nurse Will McIntyre (Nathan Wilson) is falsely accused of spiking the drink of and then raping a girl with whom he has had a one night stand. At his trial, the prosecutor asks the victim to tell the court what happened next. Falteringly, she begins with, “He had my arms pressed under…” and McIntyre’s barrister jumps up and interjects, “Your Honour, this is all hearsay evidence!” Eh? Really? (more…)

Posted on July 19th, 2015 at 1:38 pm. Updated on July 19th, 2015 at 1:42 pm.

» Chain Gang Girls - Nami: Shared Cell 42 (2007, Japan)

Chain Gang Girls - Yuka Kosaka as Nami Mizushima and Junichi Kawamoto as Warden Aihara

Nami Mizushima (Yuka Kosaka) is a determined young woman, intent on revenge. Innocent and framed by her prosecutor boyfriend over his killing of his lover, she is so controlled she remains continent after three days in a completely blackened room with her hands cuffed behind her back. (more…)

Posted on July 6th, 2015 at 9:02 pm. Updated on July 6th, 2015 at 9:02 pm.

» Shadow: Dead Riot (2006, USA)

Shadow: Dead Riot -

Shadow: Dead Riot appears to be based on a premise that the same sort of people who watch salacious Women-in-Prison films with shower scenes and predatory lesbian guards will also like zombies and gore and exploding body parts. It’s probably solid thinking from a marketing perspective, but the two elements here have rather clumsily been patched together. (more…)

Posted on June 28th, 2015 at 1:34 pm. Updated on June 28th, 2015 at 1:34 pm.