Zero Woman: Dangerous Game

Zero Woman: Dangerous Game

aka Zero Woman: Abunai yugi

Written by Hidekazu Takahara, Takashi Kaneda, and Miyuki Takahashi
Based on the Manga by Toru Shinohara
Directed by Hidekazu Takahara

Duckface photos from before MySpace????

The Zero Woman films are a series of Japanese movies that revolve around a female government agent who operates as someone beyond the law, able to execute criminals when the system is failing. Based on a comic series (O-ka no onna by Toru Shinohara), the first film was 1974’s Zero Woman: Red Handcuffs, which has since become more of a cult item thanks to it being released on DVD. There were no Zero Woman films again until the 1990s, where the series was revived as more of an anthology, with each installment having a different director and lead actress starring a Rei. This allowed the directors to go however they wanted and gave each entry its own distinct flavor. But it also dealt with the realities of the no-budget direct-to-DVD world of the late 90s. Which means some of the entries are complete garbage. Some are also less than garbage. I’m happy to say, Zero Woman: Dangerous Game is less than garbage! The Zero Woman films through the 90’s are: Zero Woman: Final Mission (1995), Zero Woman 2 (1995), Zero Woman: Assassin Lovers (1996), Zero Woman: The Accused (1997), Zero Woman: The Hunted (1997), and this one, Zero Woman: Dangerous Game. There is also another movie from 2004 simply titled Zero Woman, and a follow-up Zero Woman R.

The Zero Woman concept is that there is a super-maxi-extreme-ultra-top-secret division of the police or something called Zero Division which is basically an old chief, a less old main investigator, and Rei, the woman they send to blow away evil criminals. We know something is up because you can’t divide by zero, thus their entire department’s name is there to make math majors enraged as they watch the DVDs. As these flicks are exploitative features, they have plenty of gun violence and naked chicks, but at least this one has some weird visuals and a gay subtext. It also has an awful DVD transfer, with a fuzzy grainy effect that makes the whole picture look faded.

Chieko Shiratori is a semi-famous Japanese model who had a couple of nude picture books and acted in a few films, then vanished to be married and have kids like a lot of these model/actresses do. She was known for her muscular-ish frame and strong silent-type acting. She looks like she is constantly playing a never-ending poker game.

Zero Woman: We got DVDs to sell!

Rei (Chieko Shiratori) – Employed in Tokyo Police Department’s top secret Zero Division. Is a lesbian in this one, but I don’t think she is consistently lesbian across the film canon. Blows away more criminals than the Death Wish guy.
Nana (Ichiho Matsuda) – Turncoat on the Yakuza because they treated her like crap. A spoiled mob princess who is also a pseudo-lesbian. Pseudo-lesbianism is the only thing that can melt Rei’s ice heart. Her feelings for Natsume cause her to return to the mob to extract vengeance, which results in her death.
Natsume (Terunori Miyazaki) – One of Kaneda’s loyal goons, but not so loyal he couldn’t stop from banging Kaneda’s girl Nana. Though he does end up sleeping with Kaneda as well. That is, before he’s turned into Natsume soup and eaten by Kaneda.
Kaneda (Masayoshi Nogami) – Mobster. Former lover of Nana, who has now turned on him. Doesn’t like love, thinks hate is a more honest emotion. Enjoys dressing in drag, dressing as a creepy clown, eating Natsume soup, and creeping out his mob goons. Gets blown away, Zero Woman style.
Zero Woman: Attorney at Law!

That many goldfish in a bowl means you’ll be changing the water every 15 minutes!

The tone for today’s film will be: depression. The subdued or absent score, the dark lighting, the long, slow scenes of chracters looking like someone killed their mothers. Opening the film is a shot of Rei in the shower in the dark, but first she takes a break to watch some of her fish for a few seconds. Hey, at least she’s naked! That’s not depressing, but the sad piano music that is playing is trying its darndest to bring us down in the dumps. Rei works for the Tokyo Police Department’s top secret Zero Division, which is odd because you can’t divide by zero. Enough science jokes, on with the depression. Rei dresses in black, with guns, and thus the nudity is over for a while. But it will be back. Nudity always comes back.

FUZZY FLASHBACK! We jump back to Rei’s memories of organ thieves and sadistic mad doctors. What great memories! I had no idea that small intestines were so valuable on the black market. That’s what happens when your special effects are whatever the butcher had extra of that day. Zero Woman Rei steps up and blows away goons with her guns left and right and then left again. She does all this while calmly strolling along like she’s on a walk in the park. One crazy laughing doctor named Yamaguchi who works for the mob is faking autopsies, but he gets blasted as well. Later, Rei talks to the Chief in a truck, and Chief just stares ahead and refuses Rei’s offer of sex. This is to show how Rei has been stripped of her humanity or something. I’m not sure, the movie has switched to depressing silence again and it is becoming hard to think. Rei sees the city as a fishbowl that she takes care of, thus working the fish from before into the plot and having everything make sense. Or not. It is still depressing. Where did I put my razor blades…

Nude on the couch in front of the TV, Zero Woman is just me in my single days!

They killed the doctors but the mob boss Kaneda is still running around being evil and having a name that sounds like a country on the northern border of the US. Luckily for Zero Division, Kaneda’s girlfriend Nana has decided to turn rat on him and will now be protected by Rei. Nana is the opposite of Rei, instead of being quiet and depressed, she’s talkative and feminine. Nana kisses Rei on the lips and demands a smile. Yes, lesbian sex will happen soon, but first we need some scenes where the two characters don’t get along well, like every other movie ever made. Then we get to the sex. Lots of lesbian sex! Good thing I didn’t find the razor blades!

Back at the hideout apartment, the two women have a third person joining them, a male cop who is unconfident and pushed around by Nana. A phone call from Yakuza boss Kaneda reveals Kaneda wants to meet up with Nana one more time. That won’t be happening at the moment, as someone is at the door. Unconfident Male Cop answers the door and gets blown away by a Yakuza goon dressed as a cop. Rei calmly kills the goon and then goes downstairs to kill many other goons, including some ridiculous guy who sticks 90% of his body outside the car he’s in while shooting at Rei. I guess there is no honor in taking cover during a firefight or something. This saving of Nana’s life does nothing to make her less snotty, but as her and Rei will be locking lips soon we can chalk this up to attempted sexual tension. Rei hides Nana at her own apartment, which should probably be unlisted as Rei is part of a top secret department but you know how persistent telemarketers and junk mailers are. Nana calls it a “freaky apartment” and still acts like a spoiled mob princess that Rei says “only knows how to frak.” Nana declares she “fucked my brains out to get to where I am today.” Hiding in a cop’s apartment.

I can see that hairline receding, buddy!
Wait, am I the idiot, or is she the idiot, or si someone calling someone else an idiot, or is the gun an idiot, or is the gun calling me an idiot again?

Speaking of the beast with two backs, Kaneda is dolling himself up in makeup, lipstick, eyeliner, a black leather bustier, garter belt, stalkings, and a red boa. He slides into bed with one of his goons and tells a story about a dream he had involving parasites. We get a flashback finding out the fellow bed Yakuza goon is named Natsume and was in love with Nana as well. Back at Rei’s apartment, Rei handcuffs Nana to the bed and sleeps on the couch. More flashbacks as Nana remembers when her and Natsume hooked up. She wanted him to slap her around so she insults him. He finally does and this scene is pretty disturbing. In fact, he slaps her around for a rather long time. What the hell, Japan? Are you Chris Brown? Anyway, finally the slapping stops and the sexing begins.

The next morning Nana sees there is no food in Rei’s apartment. They go shopping and Nana cooks a big fancy dinner. Rei is impressed but tries not to show it. Yeah, exciting. When will people once again start to get blown away? Or the lesbianism? Sorry, how about a brief scene of Kaneda and his goons practicing fake loud laughing. What the hell, Japan? Nana and Rei spend some time roof bowling (don’t ask) and then in the apartment Nana is yanking Rei’s towel off and complementing her on her body. Nana asks Rei if she masturbates and asks to sleep with her. They do sleep together, in the same bed, but no sex action happens. And Nana is still bored the next morning, saying “stare, stare, like a bear, don’t forget your underwear!” I seem to have missed out on that rhyme in my schoolyard days. Rei has to go shoot more bad guys without a trial so she leaves Rei home alone (always a good thing to do with mob witnesses). Rei heads to a fake sanitarium that is really an organ harvesting place. The nurse whispers and walks really slow, but attacks Rei lightning fast when they near the doctor. Rei just pushes the nurse in the way of the doctor, who is attacking with his scalpels. The nurse squirts blood as the doctor rants and Rei shoots him in the head. The Chief says that one of the patients was supposed to be a donor for a politician’s kid, but now the trail is cold so they are out of luck. And they no longer need Nana. Rei tells Nana, but Nana has nowhere to go and is still in danger. She packs and leaves anyway, and then Rei lounges on her bed naked with a cigarette. At times this movie is brilliant in between the depressing junk.

I’m not sure I like this bowling-themed remake of The Room

Hey, we haven’t checked in on what zany things Kaneda is doing lately! Kaneda is dressed up in a full dress and pink hair for Natsume’s birthday party. He forces Natsume to slow dance with him, saying that having people hate him is better than having people love him because hate is real. This guy is like the Lady Gaga of crime bosses! Emo Rei goes and gets Nana like we knew she would. The Chief gets a visit from a politician with a sick child who tells him to turn a blind eye to the organ trafficking or he’ll appoint one of Kaneda’s goons a successor. Now, the Chief should just arrest the politician right there and expose him but that’s probably too easy and would counter the forced drama the scriptwriter is trying to create. Nana reveals to Rei she stole a bunch of money from Kaneda as she left and that she’s planning to be with Natsume one day. Natsume shows up on the beach with them, pulls a gun and demands the money. Rei also pulls a gun and makes Natsume choose either the mob or Nana. Natsume chooses what is in the box, and gets nothing! He’s so stupid! Oh, wait, instead he tells Nana to take the money and run. Natsume is then shot many times shortly after by another Yakuza goon.

Nana and Rei go to a hotel, where they share a bubbly hot tub with each other. Then they share their vaginas with each other as they have fabulous lesbian sex. Finally, it took long enough, movie! I almost got distracted reading this book about squirrels I got at the library instead of watching the film. The scene is long and obviously the centerpiece the movie was built around. Later, the girls leave with the money.

Kaneda is eating Natsume’s body in soup with Natsume’s head lying on the table. Thank you, Japan! Nana bursts in with a gun and shoots Kaneda dead. Nana is then killed and her heart is transplanted into a politician’s sick daughter who dies anyway. Hey, how about that for depression? The Chief and Rei discuss this business and then Rei is back to being depressed around her apartment again. Not for too long, as soon she goes to a mob house gunning down the entire Yakuza clan herself. She asks one of the goons why Nana came back, and he replies “Because they are all idiots!” Rei shoots him in the head. The end.

Gee, I wonder where this is headed…
Of course!

Oh, Japan, why must your lesbian films be filled with so much depression and boredom? This became a huge problem in the 90s and 00s with a lot of their direct-to-video features. for every 90 minutes of moping, there was about 2 minutes of actual action. Unfortunately, many of these mopey films seemed to get distributed outside of Japan, and on DVDs with awful transfers. One of the biggest drags on the market was how awful some of the films that were getting US releases were. Luckily, there were so many Zero Woman films, you never know what flavor you were going to get. Like Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans. But sometimes….you should buy some chocolate frogs instead.

Rated 4/10 (surfer, John the Baptist, boss, mobby)

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3 thoughts on “Zero Woman: Dangerous Game

  1. Never seen this, but I actually I didn’t like the first one that much to watch the others. Thanks for the review, I know I was right in keeping myself away from this.

    • Each one is different, but they all have many of the same flaws and don’t have the advantage of only a small amount of Japanese cinema being available in the West. The 1974 one is probably the only one that does anything neat (I’ve not seen the newest two and am not going to bother) but it’s outclassed by other films of the time.

  2. Pingback: Zero Woman: Dangerous Game | Mysterious Order of the Skeleton Suit

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