Friday, February 20, 2009

REVIEW: Zero Woman

消せない記憶 (Zero Woman: Keishichô 0-ka no onna)

Released: 1995

Daisuke Goto

Natsuki Ozawa
Saori Iwama
Kane Kosugi
Hiroyuki Watari
Tomomi Miyauchi

Running time: 82 minutes

Reviewed by Bob Turnbull

In the first 7 or so minutes of "Zero Woman" our elite killer heroine has donned wigs, foiled a robbery, splattered brains and washed blood from her naked body twice - once while driving. Sound like a cool sexy thriller? Not so fast...Later in the film, we see her brandishing her gun as she chases a guy with a machete - only for the chase to slow and then end as they both collapse wheezing and gasping for air. Ah, perhaps it's a parody of sexy thrillers? Not so much...Simply a bit of trashy fun? Not that either...

More than once during its overly long 82 minute run time, I wondered exactly why I was watching this film. Not because it was so terrible - there's a basic level of competence here and one or two good ideas - but just because there's simply nothing of real interest to see. Star Natsuki Ozawa is indeed quite lovely and is quite willing to doff her clothing on a regular basis, but strangely enough that doesn't help much. Shot sometimes looking like home video and making little logical sense, the story follows her search for the three young punks who inadvertently steal some stock certificates during an opening robbery scene. She gets some help from a detective who may or may not be a mole inside the department and they find a link to the punks through a psychic. This leads them back to the real bad guys and dead bodies start to pile up. None of the characters really have any personality except for the stock ones assigned to them ("I'm the whiny girlfriend", "I'm the angry guy!", etc.) and the plot provides little anticipation, suspense or mystery. And there just isn't enough style to make up for the lack of substance.

Certain parts of the film do border on parody - Rei has been chosen specifically to serve in Section Zero, but she seems to be pretty incompetent. She gets shot, clubbed from behind, almost raped and even falls asleep at a lunch counter dropping her gun on the floor. Sometimes she can't hit a thing and at other times she is an excellent shot. Unfortunately, none of these moments or ideas go far enough to be played up for laughs or to be used for poking fun at other genre films. They pretty much just lie there with the drab visuals. Even the main sex scene between Rei and her detective partner is poorly handled and oddly non-erotic. I actually ended up fast forwarding over the last part of it - it was starting to make me cringe a bit.

So what is "Zero Woman"? I don't think it really knows. Director Daisuke Goto certainly appears to be making an effort (e.g. a few effective freeze frames and camera angles), but he tries to bring humour, sex, action and style to a low budget film without any of those elements working together (or separately for that matter). To be fair, I understand that the version I saw has been trimmed by 17 minutes, so perhaps there's gold in those deleted sections or some further character details. But all I saw was a bargain basement plot that calls for the female star to disrobe every 10 minutes or so. I guess that's what "Zero Woman" is.

Read more from Bob Turnbull at his blog.

1 comment:

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