Issue #226a          HOME          E-mail:        BACK ISSUES           August 23rd, 2004

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Zero Woman: Dangerous Game
(1998; Toru Shinohara/Vision Sugimoto/Wani Books/MAXAM)


Japanese Title : Zero Woman: Abunai yugi

RATING: 6/10


The second-to-last film in this DTV series is the most graphic and its statuesque star, the spectacular Chieko Shiratori, a departure from her predecessors. It is also the most unusual and interesting entry of the lot, following the basic precepts but filling in the gaps with humor of the darkest sort. This time out, the target is a syndicate specializing in organ smuggling, headed by Kaneda (Masayoshi Nogami), an elderly man who could easily be mistaken for a benevolent grandfather but is completely out of his gourd. The withdrawn, taciturn Rei (Shiratori) is ordered to guard Kaneda’s flaky mistress, Nana (Ichiho Matsuda), as she may hold the key to his downfall. In between complaining about the accommodations, Nana derives great pleasure from testing the stern assassin’s patience. After a time, Rei’s boss decides that the girl’s planned testimony lacks credibility, so Rei is ordered to set her free, leaving Nana unprotected. The girl reveals that she and her boyfriend, a Kaneda confidante, had planned to steal several million yen from the boss but recent events have left both unsure of how to proceed next.

Chieko Shiratori Ichiho Matsuda Masayoshi Nogami
Additional stills (nudity): 1, 2, 3

The ZERO WOMAN films are usually rigid in their construction and the fact that this one is willing to play a bit with the formula makes it the most worthwhile of the bunch. Viewers expecting sex and gangland mayhem parceled out at the usual intervals will not be pleased to learn that much of the movie consists of Rei and Nana hiding out in the former’s dingy apartment, biding time and waiting for orders from Zero Division. Director Hidekazu Takahara stages many scenes in a manner reminiscent of an absurdist play, with long, oftentimes curious exchanges unfolding in static medium and master shots. The thoughts shared steer well clear of profound but do offer some humor and there is a modicum of character development, as both women gradually become more comfortable together. This being the kind of film it is, they end up in bed (one of the sexier moments in the series), while Nana’s ineffectual boyfriend acquiesces to the increasingly unhinged desires of Kaneda (who is a bisexual/transvestite/cannibal, prompting one character to observe "He’ll eat anything – men or women"). Chieko Shiratori is befittingly stern but the role does not require her to do anything approaching actual acting. However, the well-endowed, 5' 6" nude model is captivating and a departure from the predominant school girl-type of sex symbol that Japanese men seem to favor.

Ichiho Matsuda Chieko Shiratori Chieko Shiratori


As with the majority of entries in the series, this was shot on video and features the hazy/grainy/muddy look common to Japanese DV features. An early sequence in a meat storage plant and a handful of others are extra grainy by design (looking not unlike a fuzzy UHF signal from a bygone era) but sequences presented without artifice look decent, if one makes allowances for the largely undifferentiated lighting. The stereo mix is basic but perfectly adequate (the usual wretched monaural English dub is also included). Supplements consist of an art gallery (actual stills, not grabs) and promo spots for this and eight other Asia Pulp Cinema titles. A translated English crawl follows the feature and is included in the above running time. The English voice talent is actually given billing over the Japanese cast, which is especially absurd when you consider that most of the dubbing crew are hiding behind obvious pseudonyms!

This DVD is available at:

Images in this review courtesy of Asia Pulp Cinema. To read captions, hover mouse over image.

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Copyright © John Charles 2000 - 2004. All Rights Reserved.

DVD Specifications

  • U.S. Release
  • NTSC Region 0
  • Asia Pulp Cinema #APCD 2386
  • Dolby Digital 2.0
  • Sync Sound Japanese and Dubbed English Language
  • Subtitles (Optional): English
  • 10 Chapters
  • 4:3 Letterbox (1.74:1)
  • 81 Minutes

Ratings & Consumer Information

  • Quebec: 18+
  • Contains brutal violence, moderate horror, nudity, moderate sexual content, and coarse language


  • 10 A Masterpiece
  • 9 Excellent
  • 8 Highly Recommended
  • 7 Very Good
  • 6 Recommended
  • 5 Marginal Recommendation
  • 4 Not Recommended
  • 3 Poor
  • 2 Definitely Not Recommended
  • 1 Dreadful