“Pinky Violence” is a genre of Japanese exploitation films that were mostly popular during the ’70s and focused on sex and violence. That’s the easiest way to describe it and it may be a bit different for everyone. The Female Prisoner Scorpion films are the most recognizable genre titles, and Arrow Video put out a box set several years ago preserving them. Perhaps a close second would be Zero Woman: Red Handcuffs (1974) starring Miki Sugimoto. Neon Eagle Video has brought the film to Special Edition Blu-ray, and I have to say, this film pulls no punches and hits extremely hard.

Rei (Miki Sugimoto) is a cop who has gone undercover to track a killer. She tricks him into thinking she’s passed out before brutally killing him. Having gone rogue, Rei’s superiors are forced to prosecute and strip her of her badge. After a politician’s daughter is kidnapped and no other options available, the authorities are forced to do this one off the books, so they turn to Rei.

If she can rescue the young woman and take out the kidnappers, she’ll be granted her freedom. It’s an offer that can’t be refused but will the price she pays be worth it?

Zero Woman: Red Handcuffs is one of the most brutal films I’ve seen in a long time, and it was released fifty years ago. At times, it’s very difficult to watch. There are several rape scenes that are guaranteed to make you squirm uncomfortably. Directed by Yukio Noda, it dabbles a bit in political commentary but mostly takes the exploitation film to new levels. It’s a bleak film that delivers a satisfying finale driven home by Sugimoto’s unrivaled powerhouse performance.

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Sugimoto’s character arc takes her into the darkest of places. This includes a criminal underworld that chews her up and spits her out, all while focusing on one thing: her freedom.

The 4K restoration is phenomenal and at times I even questioned if I was watching a movie shot in the early ’70s. It’s crisp with vibrant colors, making all the blood flow incredibly satisfying. There are a few bonus features on the disc including an audio commentary by film historian Samm Deighan, an image gallery, and reversible cover with alternate artwork. Sex + Violence = Pinky Violence: TokyoScope author Patrick Macias also discusses the film.

Neon Eagle Video have done the film proud by presenting Zero Woman: Red Handcuffs in the best possible way. It’s a film deserving of attention. Miki Sugimoto gives an iconic performance that should be recognized as one of the best to be seen in the genre.

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