Blu-ray Review: Zero Woman: Red Handcuffs

Blu-ray Reviews, Reviews

The rise of TV in the ’60s and ’70s lessened the desire for people to pay to watch a movie in a theater. Why go out when the ABC Saturday Night movie was on? This was true in America and foreign countries. How could movie studios lure people away from their TV sets? By providing films that weren’t going to be broadcasted. In America, the MPAA ratings not merely warned parents to not bring their kids. People knew they weren’t going to get the R Rated and X Rated action at home. They need to buy a ticket. In Japan, Toei got into “Pinky Violence” films that were filled with graphic nudity and blood. Zero Woman: Red Handcuffs was a cop movie exposed more than criminal operations.

Rei (Terrifying Girls’ High School: Lynch Law Classroom‘s Miki Sugimoto) is dancing at a nightclub when an American guy joins her for a drink. He likes the way she shakes her moneymaker. He offers her a drink and she ends up unconscious in his hotel room. He’s up to no good as he strips her down and puts a towel around his waist. He pops open up his briefcase that contains a Marquis De Sade starter kit. Rei isn’t really passed out. She opens her eyes and finds his passport. He works at the US Embassy and has diplomatic immunity. She tears up the passport and accuses him of killing another woman. He admits to it and explains she’s going to be next. His attempt to subdue her goes bad. She slaps her red handcuffs on him. Except instead of calling for back up and reading his rights, Rei shoots the guy in the crotch and blood flows out from a hole in the towel. This is movie is not made for TV. Her police boss doesn’t like this vigilante justice moment. She gets tossed into prison and runs into old busts. This not a happy reunion. Around this time another guy is released from prison and meets up with his old gang. Instead of getting a few drinks, the group head out to the countryside and attack a couple in a car. They kill the guy and take turns with the woman. They head back into the town with the woman with the hopes of selling her into prostitution. The madame running the brothel recognizes the girl. Their victim is a major politician’s daughter. Now they’re in the kidnapping business. The cops fear that the gang will kill the girl after they get the ransom. The politician tells them that the gang can’t live. Such a story will ruin his daughter’s engagement and his future shot at Prime Minster. They bring back Rei for this risky assignment. If she succeeds, the homicide charge will vanish. She’ll get her badge back.

Zero Woman: Red Handcuffs was like a really extreme version of Police Woman (which was starting to air on TV in 1974). Rei goes super deep cover to get inside the gang. She eventually gets abused as bad as the kidnapped girl. She could probably bail at any moment, but she doesn’t want the girl to left behind. She also wants to snuff the leader of the gang herself. The gang leader is properly vicious including when he home invades a fancy dress party and gets more hostages to molest. Miki Sugimoto is badass as Rei. Nothing gets held back on the screen. The finale has the bullets flying and blood leaking all over an abandoned town. I was going to call Yukio Noda the Japanese version of Michael Winner (Death Wish & The Wicked Lady) except Noda delivers twice the disturbing imagery in Zero Woman: Red Handcuffs as Winner ever achieved. Why didn’t Toei reteam Noda and Sugimoto to give us more Rei films. Noda did work with Sonny Chiba on Golgo 13: Assignment Kowloon and Bruceploitation epic Bronson Lee, Champion. Sugimoto only did a few more films before retiring. The good news is they delivered a masterpiece of the genre when they worked together. They made a film that people needed to see on the big screen all those years ago. After 50 years, Zero Woman: Red Handcuffs still isn’t safe enough for broadcast TV.

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The Video is 2.35:1 anamorphic. The 4K restoration lets all the blood glisten on the screen. The color is extra sharp when they drive through the neon covered downtown in 1080p. The Audio is Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Mono. There’s a lot of screaming. The movie is subtitled in English.

Audio Commentary with film historian Samm Deighan. This is her favorite Pinky Violence films. We get an overview of the genre and how Zero Woman factors into the studio’s exploration of the genre. She points out the creepy diplomat at the start of the film was in a bunch of Godzilla titles.

Sex + Violence = Pinky Violence (18:02) has Patrick Macias discuss Zero Woman: Red Handcuffs. He calls the roughest, toughest, crazies pressure cooker of a movie. He like how it throws away all institutions on the screen including family, police and politics. He digs into Toei’s Pink Violence that was a response to another studio’s sadistic and perverse films. The studio had been making pinky films and violent films, but like a Reese’s Cup, they put them together. They made Female Prisoner Scorpio series. The writers on that series did the Zero Woman script.

Image Gallery (2:44) is a montage of posters, press photos and lobby cards.

Neon Eagle Video presents Zero Woman: Red Handcuffs. Directed by Yukio Noda. Screenplay by Hiroo Matsuda & Fumio Konami. Starring Miki Sugimoto, Tetsuro Tamba, Hideo Murota, Eiji Go, Ichirō Araki, Rokkō Toura, Akira Kume & Yōko Mihara. Running Time: 88 minutes. Rating: Not Rated. Release Date: May 7, 2024.

Joe Corey is the writer and director of "Danger! Health Films" currently streaming on Night Flight and Amazon Prime. He's the author of "The Seven Secrets of Great Walmart People Greeters." This is the last how to get a job book you'll ever need. He was Associate Producer of the documentary "Moving Midway." He's worked as local crew on several reality shows including Candid Camera, American's Most Wanted, Extreme Makeover Home Edition and ESPN's Gaters. He's been featured on The Today Show and CBS's 48 Hours. Dom DeLuise once said, "Joe, you look like an axe murderer." He was in charge of research and programming at the Moving Image Archive.