The wom­en in pris­on gen­re is an inher­ent­ly down­beat one.  Since Caged, the dom­i­nant the­me in this gen­re have been how an inher­ent­ly flawed and eas­i­ly cor­rupt­ed sys­tem winds up cre­at­ing the preda­tors it is sup­pos­ed­ly try­ing to cure.  There is no escape in the grim, Darwinian world the­se films present: you either become an ani­mal or an animal’s prey.  The sto­ry might offer the nudi­ty, vio­lence and sleaze exploita­tion fans tune in for but they are like­ly to deliv­ered with equal help­ings of gloom and nihilism.

True Story Of A Woman In Jail: Continues is a per­fect exam­ple of this kind of wom­en in pris­on film, tak­ing the dark­ness of this series’ intro­duc­to­ry install­ment and push­ing the envelope in mul­ti­ple direc­tions.  Once again, the main hero­ine is Mayumi (Kozue Hitomi) but she no longer has dreams of escape.  Instead, she is resigned to the casu­al cru­el­ty of pris­on life.  She saves the last bit of decen­cy she has left to aid a young pris­on­er who is a tar­get of the prison’s Queen Bee, help­ing her to get by until she is paroled.

Unfortunately, things don’t work out well for pris­on­ers in a movie like this.  The young pris­on­er soon dis­cov­ers there are as many preda­tors out­side the pris­on as there are inside — and her tra­vails awak­en Mayumi to the exis­tence of a crim­i­nal ring that incor­po­rates the help of the prison’s guards and inmates.  To make mat­ters worse, she becomes aware that her own moth­er is prey to sim­i­lar cor­rup­tion beyond the gates.  It’s only a mat­ter of time until the pres­sure build­ing up in Mayumi lets loose — and the grit­ty finale offers both cathar­sis and fur­ther gloom.

Simply put, this isn’t light view­ing — and True Story Of A Woman In Jail: Continues is total­ly com­mit­ted to the dark phi­los­o­phy of pris­on life that its sto­ry­line espous­es.  Koyu Ohara, who direct­ed the pre­vi­ous install­ment of the series, returns and brings the same grimy yet styl­ized aes­thet­ic to the pro­ceed­ings.  Like any Nikkatsu roman porno direc­tor, he packs in the exploitable con­tent and brings his fetishis­tic sce­nar­io in at a tidy 70 min­utes. He real­ly seems to love his work, par­tic­u­lar­ly the kinky sex sce­nes stuffed in at every oppor­tu­ni­ty.  As befits a film where the sto­ry is dri­ven by issues of dom­i­nance, the­se sweaty cou­pling look as much like wrestling match­es as they resem­ble sex.

However, Ohara places equal impor­tance on estab­lish­ing a doomy atmos­phere that grows dark­er as the film pro­gress­es and piles on the melo­dra­mat­ic ele­ments.  When the sto­ry reach­es its bleak finale, he orches­trates the vio­lence with oper­at­ic fer­vor but nev­er gives the audi­ence the false hope of an escape.  It is telling that our hero­ine nev­er steps out from behind the pris­on bars for the film’s entire run­ning time. She only enjoys free­dom in her flash­backs (and those all end trag­i­cal­ly, too).

The cast plays the film’s mor­bid tone in a straight­faced man­ner. Lead actress Hitomi tow­ers over them all, gor­geous yet dour as she qui­et­ly bears wit­ness to end­less cru­el­ty.  She has the look of some­one who is lost and knows she’ll nev­er be found and her glum accep­tance of this state of affairs sug­gests it’s the only way to sur­vive in world where jus­tice is hope­less­ly cor­rupt.  To the cred­it of True Story Of A Woman In Jail: Continues, it sells that sleazy, hope­less atmos­phere with great skill.