Mr Big

» 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.

» Zombie Death House (1988, USA)

Zombie Death House - Earl Johnson as Arthur Adams holding the head of Head Guard Raker (Howard George)

To say that this is the best prison zombie movie I’ve seen is not saying much. But it is, even if it doesn’t contain any zombies. (more…)

Posted on March 16th, 2015 at 7:35 pm. Updated on March 16th, 2015 at 7:35 pm.

» Blackwell’s Island (1939, USA)

Blackwell's Island - Stanley Fields as 'Bull' Bransom takes in his new prison surroundings

The opening credits of Blackwell’s Island contain the standard disclaimer about no resemblance to any person living or dead being intended, but without the resemblance to actual persons and events this film would be decidedly more silly than it already is. (more…)

Posted on November 10th, 2014 at 7:57 pm. Updated on November 10th, 2014 at 7:57 pm.

» The Guys from Paradise (2000, Japan)

The Guys from Paradise - Kôji Kikkawa as Kohei Hayasake

“Here, I don’t find any inconvenience. This is heaven, isn’t it?” says one prisoner of the Filipino jail in which he’s banged up. And it is something of a safe haven for a select few – a place where money can buy anything, where one can carry on one’s illegal activities without too much interference, and where one can hide away from one’s enemies. (more…)

Posted on September 18th, 2014 at 9:17 pm. Updated on September 18th, 2014 at 9:17 pm.

» Starred Up (2013, UK)

Starred Up - Jack O'Connell asEric Love

Eric Love (Jack O’Connell) is 19, ‘starred up’ (transferred to adult prison prematurely from juvenile prison), and out to make a splash. On his first day he violently attacks an unsuspecting fellow prisoner, puts himself into a state of Bronsonesque arousal for the ensuing fight with prison officers and finishes up holding one officer hostage with an aerial at his throat and then gripping another’s privates between his teeth. I don’t know too many prisons that would allow him to just go back into the wing after that… even as an outcome negotiated for the officers’ release, but back to the wing he goes, the new prison Governor a little peeved that she hadn’t been advised of his arrival. It’s a mark of this film that it’s able to overcome that initial credibility gap and still be an exceptional prison movie.


Posted on August 30th, 2014 at 4:38 pm. Updated on August 29th, 2019 at 8:42 pm.

» The Valachi Papers (1972, Italy / France)

The Valachi Papers - Charles Bronson as Joe Valachi expresses his displeasure at his former Mob associates in the prison exercise yard

My problem with this movie is this: When you show a succession of unexceptional hoods scheming, thugging, racketeering and mowing down rivals in cold blood, why would you expect anyone to care what happens to them? Even when they turn on their former colleagues, as is the case in this long and rather tedious film.  (more…)

Posted on January 6th, 2013 at 7:22 pm. Updated on January 6th, 2013 at 7:22 pm.

» The Cracksman (1963, UK)

The Cracksman - Charlie Drake as Ernest Wright, master locksmith

One can imagine Ronnie Barker, not much more than an extra in this movie, sitting back and watching Charlie Drake play a too-eager-to-please prisoner in a delightful old British nick and thinking, “If I just made him gruffer, more of a rogue, less honest… it’d be funnier.” And then going away and making Porridge 10 or so years later, to so much more acclaim than this ever achieved. Which isn’t to say that The Cracksman has no merit.  (more…)

Posted on November 27th, 2012 at 8:38 pm. Updated on November 27th, 2012 at 8:38 pm.

» Get the Gringo (2012, USA)

Get the Gringo - Kevin Hernandez as the Kid, and Mel Gibson as Driver

It’s a bit hard to separate any movie involving Mel Gibson from the ranting, wife-beating, homophobic anti-Semite that the star (and writer) of Get the Gringo has shown himself to be. Allegedly. As a result, I wasn’t much looking forward to this film. Nor am I a fan of the action genre, as I may have said previously; ad infinitum. But this is surprisingly watchable. Enjoyable, even. (more…)

Posted on August 28th, 2012 at 10:01 pm. Updated on August 28th, 2012 at 10:01 pm.

» The Jail in Burning Island (1997, Hong Kong)

The Jail in Burning Island - Takeshi Kaneshiro as Yeung Chung, a bit confusingly dressed in a guard's uniform after escaping

One of the better things that can be said about this film, also known as ‘The Jailbreakers’ or, more properly, ‘Huo shao dao zhi heng hung Ba dao’, is that this time Chu Yen-Ping directs an original script, rather than stringing together scenes from his favourite prison movies as he did in Island of Fire (1990). Some things however remain very similar; same island, same prison, same format of four (or five) prisoners with interwoven stories. (more…)

Posted on April 24th, 2012 at 11:20 pm. Updated on December 16th, 2016 at 8:20 pm.

» Deathrow (2000, Philippines)

Deathrow - Cell chief Mio (Ray Ventura) and Gambino (Pen Medina) discuss with Sonny (Cogio Domingo) the wisdom of him speaking to the authorities about drugs in the prison

This is a heartwarming tale – full of stabbings, rape, murder, drug dealing, slash-ups, suicide and corruption. But heartwarming nonetheless. (more…)

Posted on January 28th, 2012 at 10:02 pm. Updated on February 3rd, 2012 at 10:29 pm.