Zero Woman 3 (Japan 1996)

Rating: **
Review Date: 3/5/00
Alternate Title: Zero Woman: Assassin Lovers (U.S. Title)
Cast: Kumiko Takeda

Well, I finally tracked down the elusive "Zero Woman 3". Again I'm forced to question my motives for watching this dreadful series, but luckily this one isn't too bad. Poor Zero Woman (beautiful Kumiko Takeda) hates her job and wants to quit, but her boss manages to convince her to do one more job. Like that ever works out. Unfortunately for her, her targets know about Zero Division and hire their own assassin to take her out. He's just about to do the deed when he comes to his senses and realizes "hey, she's a babe - maybe I'll just sleep with her instead of killing her." After this lurid little tryst, they meet up again, only this time he shoots her and drags her back to his girlfriend's apartment to tend to her wounds. Hmmm, how interesting. After recovering, she continues to track down her remaining targets and the other assassin keeps trying to kill her, but after having had a taste of the good stuff, he can't go through with it. After his girlfriend gets kidnapped, the two assassins team up to kill all the bad guys and save the girl. But naturally the film ends on a sour note as an even more pissed and despondent Zero Woman leaves the final scene.

Apart from the original "Zero Woman", this entry is probably the best in the series in terms of quality and content, although that isn't saying much. The photography is downright awful. The skewed angles are annoying and the entire video suffers from a bizarre strobing effect. (unless this is the result of the video transfer?) The movie starts out promising, but slows to an unbearable crawl about forty minutes in and doesn't pick up again until the last ten minutes. The film could easily have forty-five minutes cut out of it. But on the plus side, the production values are reasonable and Kumiko Takeda is gorgeous. Like all good Zero Women, she's a mixture of fierce beauty, striking confidence, unyielding defiance, emotional instability, and frail despondency. She's a good actress and handles both her dramatic scenes and action scenes with equal skill. The action scenes are bloody and fairly decent, and the sex scenes are kept to a comfortable minimum.