They're getting worse. There would be little to choose between this and the last one
, both being a waste of time, if it weren't for the rape.
Firstly, it doesn't feel like a Zero Woman film except at the end when Natsuki Ozawa's wearing the red coat. She works for Department Zero, but she doesn't carry out a single assassination and her almost trivial mission could surely have been assigned to any police department. To be honest, I'm not sure if Ozawa's even an assassin in the first place. She simply got transferred here, which doesn't make them sound like a black ops agency of clandestine killers.
She kills, mind you. She's good at that. She tends to ask people if they think there's a Heaven before she blows their brains out. However this is always after a fight, instead of (say) tying them up and dragging them into the bathroom.
The results are indistinguishable from any other vaguely edgy cop drama, except for:
(a) The nudity. Daisuke Goto directs pink films (e.g. A Lonely Cow Weeps At Dawn, Mourning Wife, Blind Love, Married Couple Swap Night: My Wife and Your Husband) and here he's really going for the exploitation. There's so much of it that eventually it gets kind of dull. There's toplessness while Ozawa's driving along, because she just can't wait to clean off the blood. There's a shower scene. There are panty shots. The camera will stare at women's chests. Admittedly Ozawa's boobs are nice, but I was wondering if I was looking at silicone implants.
(b) The rape, which is openly being used to titillate the audience. Also, in case that's not misogynistic enough, Saori Iwama gets tied up, humiliated and beaten.
(c) The underwhelming McGuffin. Everyone's chasing some share certificates, because they're worth millions. Eh? Is that all? When Ozawa's boss gives her (i.e. us) an update on the situation, I assumed we were eventually going to learn that their real importance was that they were incriminating in some way. Maybe you could trace them back through the underworld to a powerful politician or something? That would explain why Department Zero is making such a fuss about them. Nope. I was wrong. They're just share certificates, unless you choose all by yourself to believe otherwise.
It's no help that the film itself agrees with me, as you'll see at the end. That's just a Message From Fred.
The punks are punks. Was I interested in them? No. Could I even tell them apart from each other? No. This film introduces its characters badly and then after that doesn't try to differentiate them. There's a male cop who's a bit more memorable than the others, but he's not nearly enough to save the film.
It doesn't even make sense. Ozawa goes so lightly on female suspects as to look incompetent, only to be proved right later by script fiat when they turn out not to be particularly villainous after all. She removes every bullet but one from a gun, with which shortly afterwards she shoots three times. Important characters keep getting shot in the leg. "You can't go to the hospital; you're under special orders." Why? Do assassins smell different or something, allowing Japanese doctors to identify them immediately and kill them?
The best bit is the finale, which suggests that someone's been watching Hong Kong action cinema. There's even martial arts, courtesy of Kane Kosugi (son of Sho Kosugi). It goes on too long and they clearly didn't have that much money to spend, but there's some decent carnage with guns, swords and kung fu. Ozawa takes on a good-sized gang all by herself.
There's also again some mildly interesting character work between Ozawa and her boss, who once again seems to regard her as you would a hammer in your toolbox. This appears to be a regular part of these Zero Woman films and I'd guess it's in the original manga too. He talks as if they're at the office even when she's naked in front of him. She offers herself to him sexually and he doesn't even acknowledge her.
There's no one you'll notice in the cast. Ozawa's being upstaged by her boobs and ten years later would be doing hardcore Adult Videos. Kosugi is half Chinese, half Japanese and a moderately big name in the world of movie martial arts. They've found a Westerner who can speak Japanese convincingly. That's it.
Don't bother. It's not so extreme as to be offensive, but it's misogynistic and bigoted (many of the bad guys are illegal immigrants). It also has a weak plot that's full of holes. It's possible that there's a longer cut of the film that's better than the one I watched, which was shorter than the 99 minutes claimed on imdb, but life's too short to care. Even telling yourself it's straight-to-video won't lower your expectations enough to make it seem good. Nice boobs. A reasonable sub-Hong Kong action finale. That's not enough to make up for everything else.