Zero Woman R (Japan 2007)

Rating: *
Review Date: 7/15/12
Cast: Atsuko Miura, Sasa Handa

Unbelievable. They keep making this crap and I keep watching it, so do I really have any right to complain? This is the ninth (or tenth, if you count the unrelated 1974 film, "Zero Woman: Red Handcuffs") film in the deplorable "Zero Woman" series, which once again lured me in with its eye-catching box art. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me nine times and I guess I'm just a sucker who will never learn. I suppose there's something to be said for consistency. I'm guessing the "R" in the title stands for "red", since Rei is always wearing red. This also seems like a nod to the original "Red Handcuffs" film, which I should probably check out some day.

Honestly, I have no idea what the plot of this film is, and Cinema Epoch's translation is so incredibly poor that I might have been better off without subtitles at all. They obviously didn't bother with proofreading the translation, and it's painfully clear that it was never reviewed by an English speaking editor. Did they just run the Japanese script through babelfish and call it good? Unbelievable. The film starts off with a bang, as two women are making love in a jail cell. The warden spies on them and just as he's about to start masturbating, one of the ladies lunges at him and chokes him to death. Then she steals his keys and the two women make a run for it. But just as they're starting to celebrate their successful jailbreak, Rei (Atsuko Miura) reveals herself as Section 0 and shoots the other woman dead. But was she really a woman? Her associates keep referring to "her" as "him", and "she" even mentions something about "her" new body. Is this important and does it make any sense? No. And do they bother to explain anything? No. Is this a victim of bad subtitles? Possibly. Who are these people and what the hell just happened? Why go through this incredibly elaborate and nonsensical ruse to break someone out of prison just to kill them? Too late, because now it's time to move on to the next incomprehensible story thread.

There happens to be another female killer on the loose (Sasa Handa), and a nosy cop gets in the way of Rei taking her out. The stone cold and emotionally dead Rei doesn't bother putting up a fight and inexplicably lets the cop walk all over her, when by all rights she should have just killed them both (since that's what Section 0 does). This sets up a back story about a group of political radicals, government scandals, corrupt officials, and a cover up at an American army base. The Section 0 chief decides to sacrifice Rei to the radicals as ransom for Yuki's safe return, oblivious to the fact that Yuki is the assassin that Rei was supposed to take down earlier. Oh, the irony. Or is it just bad scripting? Anyway, the cop has developed a hard-on for Rei and defies his superiors in order to rescue her, and then Rei and Yuki unconvincingly duke it out on the beach. Rei's future once again looks uncertain and tension mounts as the section chief decides whether or not to kill her.

Admittedly, for a low budget film it looks pretty good and is well made. The sound and lighting are decent and overall the production is competent. Unfortunately, the acting is really poor and the film spends way more time on its awkwardly prolonged sex scenes than it does on action scenes, character development, and plot advancement. The story has no sense of logic or reason, and even the sex scenes are baffling. It's certainly not the worst film in the series, but that's hardly a compliment.