Angel Cop (Japan 1989)

Rating: **
Review Date: 9/15/18

Divided into six episodes.

In order to fight Communist terrorists, Japan created an elite team of highly trained military experts called the Special Security Force. Their newest recruit is a hot-headed and cold-hearted woman named Mikawa, or "Angel", who has no sympathy or remorse when it comes to killing people. When the team learns too much about a recent terrorist plot to ruin the Japanese economy, the corrupt government turns on them and attempts to eliminate them. To make things worse, a group of telekinetic psychic hunters is also after the team. A freakish woman named Lucifer is the leader of the hunters, and it takes all of a mad scientist's technology to bring her down. The series ends with a lengthy anti-Semitic conspiracy rant, and its heavy-handed political stance drains any satisfaction out of what started as a gratuitous action exploitation show.

The anti-Semitic angle is an interesting reflection of Japanese culture and economics in the late 1980's, and isn't as far-fetched as one might think. However, I don't think it adds anything to the story, and it actually hurts the narrative by trying to make an overly preachy political statement. The series suffered from a four-year production delay after the first three episodes, which might have influenced the cynical ending as Japan's economy was starting to decline. The show definitely has a late 80's look and feel, and the forgettable music score sounds like generic video game music. It was clearly intended for adult audiences and the presentation is raw and edgy, but it also feels forced and unnecessary. There's a heavy emphasis on extreme violence, blood, gore, and torture, and the overall tone is one of impotence and masculine frustration. The character designs are overly muscular and not very attractive, and the men have ridiculously broad shoulders - to the point where they're laughably distracting. Angel's skill, determination, and personality (and combat thong) are reminiscent of Major Motoko Kusanagi from "Ghost In The Shell" (1995), except that you can't sympathize with her because she's so unlikable. It's also difficult to take Asura seriously, because of his awkward proportions, childish voice, and bizarre resemblance to either Paul Stanley, Howard Stern, and/or Brian May. It's not the girls-with-guns action outing that I was hoping for, and overall it's just nasty and unpleasant.