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Issue #124a HOME E-mail: mail@dighkmovies.com BACK ISSUES September 9th, 2002

Zero Woman: Assassin Lovers
(1996; Tohru Shinohara/Vision Sugimoto/Maxam)

A Masterpiece
Highly Recommended
Very Good
Marginal Recommendation
Not Recommended
Definitely Not Recommended

Japanese: Zero Woman III Keishicho O-ka no onna

Also known as:

Rei (played this time out by Kumiko Takeda; click here for a still -- nudity) is fed up with her life as a contract killer and walks out on Division Zero. While drowning her sorrows one evening in a bar, she meets Katsumura (TOKYO BLUE: CASE I's Keiji Matsuda; click here for a still), a fellow assassin who proves to be her match in bed. Even though he was hired to eliminate his Zero counterpart, Katsumura is too bewitched by her to go through with it. After Rei's superior pleads that she reconsider her departure, she decides to go through with a hit that her boss claims is of utmost importance to the agency. Little does Rei know that Katsumura is in the employ of her target and he nearly kills her in the ensuing shootout. Against his better judgment, Katsumura takes Rei back to his apartment and nurses her back to health. In spite of this decidedly unprofessional display of compassion, Rei then continues on with her assignment. Not surprisingly, this puts Katsumura in hot water and his employer decides to force the issue by taking the assassin's girlfriend hostage. She will be eliminated unless the increasingly anxious and ineffectual Katsumura disposes of Rei once and for all.

This entry offers the usual conflicted killers (both of whom suffer from recurrent nightmares and other emotional issues) and familiar situations, though there are a few slivers of character development (flashbacks reveal that Rei's parents were eliminated in a murder/suicide, a traumatic event that she witnessed as a schoolgirl). Director Masahide Kuwabara makes good use of some interesting locations (the finale takes place in an old bowling alley, rather than the usual dockside warehouse) and the camera set-ups and editing display more creativity than usual. The striking Takeda is also one of the better actresses featured thus far in the series and exhibits sufficient intensity to be moderately believable.

Cover art courtesy Central Park Media.

Kumiko Takeda. Image courtesy Central Park Media.
Asia Pulp Cinema/Central Park Media #APCD 2084 (U.S. Label)

Dolby Digital 2.0

Sync Sound Japanese and Dubbed English Language Tracks

Optional English Subtitles

11 Chapters Illustrated In the Menu With (Tiny) Clips

Letterboxed (1.66:1)

Coded for ALL Regions

90 Minutes (running time includes new English language crawl added after the original)

Contains brutal violence, torture, mild sexual violence, sexual content, nudity, and coarse language

DVD menu courtesy Central Park Media.

Not available

Like most Japanese DTV releases, this was shot on digital video and the image becomes irritatingly jerky when anything is moving. This was apparently a stylistic choice but it has the unfortunate effect of making the production look like a third rate VCD. Night sequences are grainy but the image is crisp and colorful most of the time. The mix is a bit light on bass but has decent presence and the Ry Cooder-esque score comes across nicely. A crummy monaural English dub is also included but hardly worth bothering with. Extras consist of a small cast/character section, a trivia game, a video promo spot, and additional spots for TERMINATRIX, BEAUTIFUL BEAST, TOKYO DECAMERON, BLOWBACK: LOVE AND DEATH, and TOKYO MAFIA: YAKUZA WARS. A photo gallery, the English dubbing script, and cast/character/production crew listings (also included on the reverse side of the keep case sleeve) can be accessed via DVD-ROM features, along with a link to Central Park Media's website.

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