Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

So I put this DVD of ‘Zero Woman Returns’ in one of my DVD players and damn if the thing doesn’t work. I was about to watch it before going to bed, but to see if I needed to send it back to its source, I went downstairs to the main entertainment venue of the house to check the disk, with no intentions of actually watching it since it was past midnight. It worked and I really should have just looked away from TV at that point because damn if I couldn’t look away and ended up watching the damn thing for its entirety, thus making me even more useless at work the next day than I normally am, despite the fact the damn movie wasn’t really all that good. Zero Woman will do that to you if you don’t keep an eye on that ho.

This is like the fourth Zero Woman I’ve seen and they all seem to start out the same way. Kinda like a James Bond flick I guess. So Rei (Saori Ono), or Zero Woman shows up on the scene where dirty cops are doing a dirty deal and stretches those suckas out. After icing those fools Rei heads home and immediately jumps in the shower, as all Zero Women before her have done, and all Zero Women after her will do. One thing that I have learned in watching these movies is that cleanliness is VERY important to Zero Women as they waste very little time when it comes to jumping into showers, and most of them seem to do their best thinking in the shower. So after getting all scrubbed up Rei heads to her part time gig at the supermarket since bustin’ caps in sucka ass foolz just doesn’t fill her with the same satisfaction that it used to and even if it did, her handlers are kind of slow in giving her people to kill anyway, so a girl has to do something to pass the time. The problem with Rei having a part-time gig is that her sour boss Kayama (Shigemitsu Ogi) usually calls on her at all times of the day to give her a new murder gig or to chastise her for killing too many people or something.

So Rei gets a new part time job at plant nursery and drops off a Jasmine at the office of business man Mutoh (Daisuke Ryu) and the two have an obvious attraction. Again

Kayama calls her in the middle of her gig to give Rei her next assignment which is keeping an eye on a suspected drug running business man with the open option of deep sixing the sucker when ordered. You would think in city with a population of 35 million people that the chances of these two cats being the same person would be astronomically slim, but there you go. Rei finds a way to keep close to Mutoh, and if you’ve seen Rei then you would know that this is about as difficult as taking a breath and breathing oxygen. Mutoh, to no one’s surprise, takes an intense liking to the undercover agent and brings her in his secret operation, much to dismay of his psychotic secretary, which will lead to Rei getting the call to do what she really doesn’t want to do. Will there ever be any satisfaction for a Zero Woman?

Following hot on the heels of ‘Zero Woman: Dangerous Game’ which was almost experimental in its wackiness, ‘Zero Woman Returns’ is much more conventional in its narrative and presentation. All of that aside for a moment, the Zero Woman series of films is all about the woman playing agent Zero. Now the previous Zero Woman, Chieko Shiratori, is one mighty bra to fill but Saori Ono comes damn close to matching the sheer, raw, physical presence of brutal femininity that was Chieko Shiratori. To paraphrase what an old man I know used to say, I would drink a cup of Chieko Shiratori’s dirty bathwater, whatever that meant. Saori Ono may lack the bountiful bombasticness of Ms. Shiratori but she still possesses a traffic stopping figure, an easy natural beauty along with being uncharacteristically tall and statuesque, plus she’s a better actress – whatever that’s worth.

Back to the movie itself, director Yasushi Saisyu toned things down considerably for this episode of the Zero Woman series as the pace was slowed to allow a much more coherent and sensible story line to develop, had a little bit more gunplay than usual and sacrificed a lot of the sexual elements that the previous movies had. This is why Saisyu will probably never direct another Zero Woman again. Though this was a much better ‘movie’ than ‘Dangerous Game’, Chieko Shiratori spent far more time naked in that movie than Saori Ono spent in this movie, and that just ain’t right. Since the woman had no problem being naked in your movie, exploit the hell out of that man! It’s a Zero Woman movie and not the English Patient and as such I wouldn’t mind a little sacrificing of some exposition for more Saori Ono in the shower. But that’s just my opinion.

‘Zero Woman Returns’ seems to be the last of the line since this was shot back in 1999 and I don’t see any new one’s on the horizon. It really isn’t all that bad a film and as we stated earlier, it made more sense and was more competent than most of the movies it has proceeded, but it sacrificed exploitation for composition and I’m not quite sure that’s the way this particular series is supposed to go out.

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