Wonder Women (1973)

Rating: **
Review Date: 7/7/13
Cast: Ross Hagen, Nancy Kwan, Vic Diaz, Sid Haig

More Filipino exploitation trash, boasting some nice 70's T&A and some crazy stuntwork. Mike Harber (Ross Hagen) is a bad-ass insurance investigator who is looking for a kidnapped athlete in Manila. His search leads him to the island of Dr. Tsu (Nancy Kwan), a brilliant surgeon who has discovered the key to immortality through total body transplantation. Not surprisingly, these transplant operations require healthy donors, which is where the kidnapping angle comes in. She is also responsible for pioneering "brain sex", a way to tap into hidden erotic pleasure centers in the brain. Yet, for all of her medical and scientific genius, she's a cruel and heartless monster who thinks nothing of dissecting her loyal assistants for spare parts.

For whatever reasons, Dr. Tsu's fortress is guarded exclusively by armed teenage girls in impossibly short dresses. Her elite hit squad also consists of highly trained and proficient women, and they're responsible for the requisite skin factor. Their laughably bad martial arts skills verge on parody, but the actresses are dead serious and give it their all. Interestingly, it's the brain sex that eventually turns the mad doctor's girls against her, as they still prefer getting it on caveman style. Harber manages to escape the island with some help from the ladies, only to find himself in a completely incongruous and uncomfortable epilogue playing erotic chess with a vapid bimbo and facing down a new army of female assassins. Is Dr. Tsu looking for a rematch, or is this some other villain who employs a female hit squad?

It's delightfully tacky, and quite harmless by today's standards. The women are moderately attractive and it's fun seeing them in such strong and physically demanding roles. Nancy Kwan is gorgeous, and plays her role as a megalomaniacal Bond villain to sweet perfection. Her refined manners and delicate poise belie her cold and wicked nature, and she's more than a match for the brutish Harber. While it's full of amusing bits, the funniest moment has to be when Harber is being chased through a cemetery and he pulls a double-barreled sawed-off shotgun out of his shirt. Where the hell did that come from?!? Talk about a master of concealment! The film's big set piece is a foot chase through a crowded marketplace, followed by a dangerous Jeepney chase. The most chilling and astonishing scene is when a speeding car accidentally hits a security guard - for real. It's a fantastic shot, but very unsettling. There's also some local flavor thrown in with an extended cock-fight sequence that's difficult to watch. Overall, it's a fun little female action romp for anyone who enjoys watching women in power roles. The only disappointment is when the action shifts to Harber, and the once powerful female assassins become meek and helpless in his presence.