The Strip Search

» Michael Inside (2017, Ireland)

Michael Inside - Dafhyd Flynn as Michael McCrea

“Are we quits, now?” asks the young, first-time prisoner of the older prisoner who had earlier come to his rescue, having just paid off the first instalment (by helping tip boiling water on a debtor) in return for the big favour. “Ask me again and I’ll stamp your face into the concrete,” the older man replies. And if the younger man didn’t realise up until that point that he was trapped, he does then. (more…)

Posted on November 6th, 2018 at 7:39 pm. Updated on November 6th, 2018 at 7:39 pm.

» Crown Heights (2017, USA)

Crown Heights - Lakeith Stanfield as Colin Warner

“Please don’t let it be a cell.” So says Colin Warner on waking each day. But for 21 years, it is. And he’s innocent. (more…)

Posted on August 19th, 2018 at 8:37 pm. Updated on August 19th, 2018 at 8:39 pm.

» La 4ª Compañía / The 4th Company (2016, Mexico)

The 4th Company - Manuel Ojeda as Colonel Chaparro in front of the Dogs, including Andoni Gracia as Combate (68) and Adrián Ladrón as Zambrano (10)

This is prison movie fusion; a football story à la The Longest Yard (1974) and (2005) and Mean Machine (2001), combined with - and in the context of - an extraordinary story of high level corruption in a Mexico City prison. It’s not entirely congruous; it’s a bit like dropping the Birdman of Alcatraz into the middle of Corcoran State Prison while ‘gladiator day’ fights as depicted in Felon (2008) are staged around him. (more…)

Posted on June 9th, 2018 at 4:57 pm. Updated on June 9th, 2018 at 4:57 pm.

» The Plan (2015, India)

The Plan - Shreeram as Chetan, Koustubh Jayakumar as Ajay, and Hemanth as Bhaskar

Three innocent young men, framed and remanded into custody by a vindictive police officer, resolve to escape from the Madikeri District Jail before their next court appearance in 15 days. Or so it seems. (more…)

Posted on May 28th, 2018 at 9:36 pm. Updated on May 28th, 2018 at 9:36 pm.

» The Sting II: Perfect Exchange (1993, Hong Kong)

The Sting II - Tony Ka Fai Leung as Chung Chor-Hung and Andy Lau as Mandy Chin

This is not a sequel to the 1973 film The Sting starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford, and seems an equally unlikely sequel to the 1992 Hong Kong film The Sting (starring Andy Lau, who appears in both apparently unconnected films in very different roles). A comedy-drama, it has, if nothing else, an English title which is much less abstruse than the literal translation of its Cantonese title - reportedly 36 Esteemed Cons: To Steal the Sky and Change the Moon. (more…)

Posted on April 18th, 2018 at 10:02 pm. Updated on April 18th, 2018 at 10:02 pm.

» Женская тюряга / Women’s Slammer (1991, USSR)

Women's Slammer - Venera Nigmatulina as Madina Galieva

This is the alternative title of the video (on YouTube) which translates literally, it seems, as something closer to ‘Women’s Scum’. Or sometimes, intriguingly, as ‘Women’s Jelly’. The film’s original title, Life is a Woman, doesn’t appear to have ever had much traction. (more…)

Posted on February 4th, 2018 at 3:40 pm. Updated on February 4th, 2018 at 3:40 pm.

» Carpinteros / Woodpeckers (2017, Dominican Republic)

Woodpeckers - Jean Jean as Julian Sosa

The Najayo Prison for men at San Cristóbal, about an hour out of Santo Domingo, is right next door to the Najayo Women’s Center of Correction and Rehabilitation. So close that the men in the old prison, if they can get to a high window on the upper storey, can pass messages to the women next door, and vice versa, by an elaborate, bespoke sign language. ‘Woodpecking’, they call it. “The thing is that when the woodpeckers drill their holes they grasp onto the tree - the same way that the guys climb to the windows and grab onto the rails so they can talk to us,” one of the women says. Or you can choose to make up your own explanation.

(more…)

Posted on January 28th, 2018 at 11:18 am. Updated on January 28th, 2018 at 11:18 am.

» Gulag (1985, USA)

Galag - David Keith as Mickey Almon and Malcolm McDowell as 'The Englishman' Kenneth Barrington

I’ve seen a surprising number of people (OK, four, maybe) write in to movie sites asking for the name of the prison movie where an innocent American man escapes a Russian prison in a secret compartment in a truck or a train. I’m nor sure why it’s quite so forgettable or, if it is, why people later want to retrieve its name. This is the film; it’s called Gulag, and it’s a train, not a truck. (more…)

Posted on January 22nd, 2018 at 8:45 pm. Updated on January 22nd, 2018 at 8:45 pm.

» Brawl in Cell Block 99 (2017, USA)

Brawl in Cell Block 99 - Vince Vaughn as Bradley Thomas and Don Johnson as Warden Tuggs

The copy-cat phenomenon is not unknown in prison; suicides, escapes, riots. And prison movies, too, it seems. We saw it in 2015 with the close releases of Riot and Vendetta, both featuring cops who go into maximum-security jails to avenge the killing of their wives. Recently, we’ve had two Indian movies, Lucknow Central and Qaidi Band (2017), both with innocent prisoners following their pop-stardom dreams in prison bands. And here, hot on the heels of Shot Caller (2017) - released just seven weeks earlier - is another action flick about a man embarking on a mission of extreme prison violence in order to protect his wife and child. (more…)

Posted on January 17th, 2018 at 8:48 pm. Updated on January 17th, 2018 at 8:48 pm.

» Lucknow Central (2017, India)

Lucknow Central - Deepak Dobryal as Victor Chattopadhyay, Rajesh Sharma as Purushottam Madan Pandit, Farhan Akhtar as Kishen Mohan Girhotra, Inaamulhaq as Dikkat Ansari and Gippy Grewal as Parminder ('Pali') Singh Gill

I’m not the most ardent fan of modern Bollywood productions; most are too long for my liking (this one weighs in at just shy of 2½ hours) and I generally find the musical interludes grating and intrusive. But at least in Lucknow Central (and Qaidi Band, another just-released Indian film about the formation of a jail band) music is integral to the plot, and (despite what was an apparently poor reception from Indian filmgoers) it’s a far-from-disastrous prison film. (more…)

Posted on December 31st, 2017 at 9:07 pm. Updated on January 12th, 2018 at 8:35 pm.