Written by: John White on December 12th, 2005
Theatrical Release Date: Japan, 1998
Director: Hidekazu Takahara
Cast: Chieko Shiratori, Ichiho Matsuda, Terunori Miyazaki, Yasuyuki Miyawaki Daisuke Ryu, Masayoshi Nogami
DVD released: March 9th, 2004
Approximate running time: 81 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.74:1 Letterboxed Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo Japanese, Dolby Digital Stereo English
DVD Release: Asia Pulp Cinema
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $29.99
Top secret police hit woman, Rei(Shiratori), is hunting down transplant organ thieves linked to the mob. She is detailed to protect a moody Yakuza moll(Matsuda) who is willing to implicate her former sugar daddy(Nogami) in the organ stealing. Unknown to Rei, the moll has earned the wrath of her benefactor by running off with his best lieutenant and 200 million yen. Strings get pulled by politicians, Rei is called off the case, and the moll is hung out to dry.
As Miike and Mochizuki have proved V-cinema can throw up some amazing talents who use genre films imaginatively and originally. The lack of a set audience also increases the opportunities to shock and to bend boundaries. The Zero Woman series has spawned at least 6 V-cinema releases and is a potent concoction of girls and guns. This is the fifth instalment and benefits greatly from the presence of the gorgeous and awfully cool Shiratori. She applies a certain sangfroid to everything she does in this role from dispatching Yakuza picking apart dead bodies to falling in love with the moll. Shiratori’s presence allows the other characters to fill their roles with confidence and the relationship with Matsuda is exquisitely developed and never unbelievable.
This is an extreme film at times and the image of the elderly patriarch Kaneda dressed in high heels and a Basque will haunt me to the grave. The grisly opening sequence in the slaughterhouse, the shootout in the asylum and the final showdown with human stew and severed head are well handled but surprising. Given the sheer volume of Yakuza movies it is refreshing to see one as well handled and original as this. The credit for that goes to the director, Takahara, who handles the action as well as the interplay.
In short, Zero Woman: Dangerous Game is a sexy, sleek and surprising watch recommended for someone who wants a bit more sex appeal than Takashi Ishi’s Black Angel films.
This US disc has a dreadful transfer which is soft, murky and grainy. The film has a number of scenes which are shot like on CCTV and the poor transfer renders these near unwatchable. The sound is dull and merely serviceable.
4 trailers are on the disc for the Zero Woman series and 5 for other Asia Pulp Cinema releases.
The original retail price for this disc is a huge rip-off, but if you can get it cheaper then this is a good girls and guns feature which can rest in your collection while you wait for a better release.