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Film / The Bamboo House of Dolls

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The Big Doll House... Shaw style!
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The Bamboo House Of Dolls is a 1973 Exploitation Film directed by Kuei Chi-hung and released by Shaw Brothers.

Set in Japan-occupied China in World War II, the plot revolves around a band of women prisoners, including Hong Yu-Lan, a nurse, and Jennifer, a missionary, being captured alive by the Japanese and taken to a women's prison camp. Ruled over by the sadistic warden Mako, the women plans their escape, while on the other hand the Japanese are eager to uncover a stash of hidden gold from a nearby village.

Given the title, it's no surprise that the film is released two years after The Big Doll House, is it?


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The Bamboo House of Tropers:

  • Clear My Name: Mary, after being suspected into being The Mole. She ends up dying in a failed prison escape, getting shot in order to prove her innocence.
  • Covers Always Lie: The poster above implies that the female prisoners will, at some point, take up arms from their Japanese captors and fight their way out, doing battle with the ruthless Japs... nothing of the sort happens in the film. While there's a big gunfight at the end, it's between the La Résistance and the Japanese, with none of the titular dolls involved.
  • Disposable Woman: Mary.
  • Exploitation Film: Well, it was the early 70s when exploitative films are starting to get popular, and the Shaws wanted a slice of that cake...
  • Fan Disservice: Unfortunately, given the setting, with innocent young women getting imprisoned by hostile Japanese soldiers during WWII, the rape and nudity scenes aren't played for sexiness. At all.
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  • Foreign Remake: The Shaws' attempts at remaking The Big Doll House. Even the title is a Shout-Out to the other film.
  • Forgotten Fallen Friend: Mary, whose death is quickly swept aside and isn't mentioned by Yu-Lan or any other women.
  • Great Escape: The titular dolls escaping from the Japanese camp, which climaxes the third act before the film segues to the final scene, Yu-Lan leading the women into fleeing the camp and making their way to a village not occupied by Japanese forces.
  • Girls Behind Bars: The very premise of the film, a band of young women made prisoners by the Japanese during the Second World War.
  • Hellhole Prison: The Japanese prison camp, ruled by a psychotic lesbian warden who treats captured women as sex toys, while the Japanese guards are rapists.
  • High-Voltage Death: One of the female prisoners made it as far as the fence surrounding the prison, but as she climbs her way up, she discover the top of the fence is electrified.
  • La Résistance: Cui Guo-Dong is a resistance leader who operates in a village unoccupied by the Japanese forces. Towards the end of the film, Guo-Dong gets to lead a resistance ambush on the Japanese platoon, setting up the climatic finale.
  • The Mole: Zhang turns out to be working for the Japanese, having been bribed to sell out her cellmates.
  • Obligatory War Crime Scene: What the film opens with: Japanese soldiers invading a mission school in Shanghai, killing numerous civilains and capturing several women, including our protagonist Yu-Lan who is a nurse, and Jennifer, the British missionary, and several others. Cue title, and the next scene is a Japanese prison camp where all the women are held.
  • Prison Rape: Yes, it does happen in the film, with graphic results.
  • Psycho Lesbian: Mako, the Japanese female warden, is a lesbian, who had no qualms using the other female prisoners as her own sex toys.
  • Shower Scene: Between all the cast in a women's shower. With frontal nudity included in spades.
  • A Taste of the Lash: The Japanese enjoys doing this to their captured prisoners, even the women; one of the captured women, Lana, ends up being whipped until she succumbs to her injuries.
  • Wardens Are Evil: Played straight with Mako, the Japanese warden in charge of the prison.
  • Working on the Chain Gang: The women prison is located right next to a quarry, so...

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