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Quentin Tarantino obviously loves Japanese exploitation flicks. However, despite having more resources, his "Kill Bill" films just don't live up to the originals. I enjoyed "Kill Bill" a good deal, but they lack that certain frenzied charm that makes these films so enjoyable. "Zero Woman: Red Handcuffs" is a great example of that special brand of sleaze from Japan. Its sadistic yet amusingly over-the-top, full of villains who wouldn't be out of place in "Lupin III". Its grisly and difficult to watch at moments, but never boring and lightning paced.
There are two things in particular that make "Zero Woman" work so well. One is the direction by Yukio Noda. As said earlier, he keeps everything moving at a quick pace. Also, the films violence eventually crosses over from comic book style to complete surrealism, yet retaining a disturbing edge. The cinematography and editing are appropriately frenzied.
However, as fine as Noda's direction is, it wouldn't be anything without Miki Sugimoto. As the "Zero Woman" of the title, Sugiomoto is a revelation. Shes tough, cool, silent, and sexy as all hell. Fortunately, shes the only sympathetic and likable character in the whole film (the rest are either completely evil or dumb). Sugiomoto is also a hell of an actress with great screen presence. She elevates this from above-average to an exploitation classic. "Zero Woman: Red Handcuffs" is one of the most entertaining and astonishing examples of Japanese sleaze in recent memory. Fans of either "Kill Bill" or Takashi Miike need to check this out. (9/10)
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