ContactSales: Nikkatsu, Tokyo ([email protected])
Theatrical release: Japan, 7 Sep 2013.
Presented by 009-1 Film Partners (Toei Video, Toei Satellite Broadcasting, Toei AG) (JP), Ishinomori Production (JP). Produced by Zukun Lab (JP), in association with Toei Television. Producer: Kato Kazuo.
Script: Hasegawa Keiichi. Original story: Ishinomori Shotaro (manga series, 1967-70). Photography: Momose Shu G. Editing: Sunaga Hiroshi. Music: Misawa Yasuhiro. Art direction: Wada Hiroshi. Costume design: Yamamoto Nobutake. Sound: Sato Kosho. Action: Sakamoto Koichi. Visual effects: Mino Kazuhiko (Zukun Lab).
Cast: Iwasa Mayuko (Milene Hoffman, Agent 009-1), Kinomoto Minehiro (Chris; Paul), Nagasawa Nao (Miriam; Mother), Ichimichi Mao (Cherine), Sugimoto Aya (Dr. Klein), Honda Hirotaro (Alan Lau), Takenaka Naoto (020, Milene's boss), Abe Ryohei (Stinger), Midorikawa Shizuka (Butterfly), Yokoyama Kazutoshi (SMA agent), Abe Mami (020's secretary), Hitomi Sanae, Shimozono Ayumi, Tsukui Minami (Eastern Bloc female agents).
009-1: The End of the Beginning ００９ノ１ ＴＨＥ ＥＮＤ ＯＦ ＴＨＥ ＢＥＧＩＮＮＩＮＧ
Futuristic splatter action
2013, colour, 1.85:1, 84 mins
Directed by Sakamoto Koichi (坂本浩一)
By Derek Elley
Thu, 05 December 2013, 10:00 AM (HKT)
Futuristic female splatter-action movie delivers in its full-on finale. Asian and genre events, plus cult ancillary.
J-Country, the Pacific Border Zone, sometime in the 21st century. The world is divided into the Western Bloc and the Eastern Bloc; in the middle is J-Country, once a great economic power but now subsisting on an underground economy and also riddled with political, religious and ethnic crises. However, the balance of world power rests on information gathered by spies in J-Country. Milene Hoffman (Iwasa Mayuko), aka 009-1, is a top cyborg agent for the Western Bloc's SMA who was abducted in her youth after her mother was killed. She's now working undercover on an organ trafficking case. Posing as a dancer in a nightclub, she seduces and then kills gangster Stinger (Abe Ryohei), who supplies organ trafficker Butterfly (Midorikawa Shizuka) with humans for harvesting. Her next mission is to rescue Dr. Klein (Sugimoto Aya) - lynchpin of the Western Bloc's super-soldier Faust Project, which uses the same cyborg technology that created 009-1 - who has been kidnapped by Eastern Bloc agents and is being held in a deserted warehouse. While rescuing Dr. Klein, she also frees another captive, whom she names Chris (Kinomoto Minehiro). Outside the warehouse, however, 009-1 is attacked by Miriam (Nagasawa Nao), a more advanced cyborg warrior who makes off with Dr. Klein. Afterwards, 009-1 takes the wounded Chris back to her home, where they end up making love. At work, 009-1 is dismissed by her boss, 020 (Takenaka Naoto), and then finds Chris murdered and herself hunted by her own agency. With the help of a friendly SMA agent, Cherine (Ichimichi Mao), 009-1 sets out to track down Dr. Klein at an old military facility and learn about her own background from the doctor.
A futuristic female action fantasy that jogs along serviceably for the first hour before letting loose its inner madness in a full-on finale, 009-1: The End of the Beginning ００９ノ１ ＴＨＥ ＥＮＤ ＯＦ ＴＨＥ ＢＥＧＩＮＮＩＮＧ has enough potential to spawn a trash franchise for its star, 26-year-old actress-model IWASA Mayuko 岩佐真悠子 (Beautiful Female Panther: Body Sniper 美しき女豹 ＢＯＤＹ ＳＮＩＰＥＲ (2010)). Iwasa doesn't have much to do apart from look cyborg cool in all-red boots, micro-skirt and zip-bra — and is run a close second by trash-action queen NAGASAWA Nao 長澤奈央, 29, as her evil cyborg nemesis — but she's made to look good by excellent stunt-doubling and clever cutting, and handles the moments of cyborg-human conflict in an okay manner.
More important for manga fans is that this is the first live-action movie version of the classic 009-1 (ゼロゼロナイン・ワン) by the late ISHINOMORI Shotaro 石ノ森章太郎, originally published in 1967-70 and subsequently made into a TV series, an anime series and a feature anime. A hugely influential figure in manga publishing, Ishinomori, who died in 1998, is largely celebrated for his Super Sentai (スーパー戦隊) series and Kamen Rider (仮面ライダー) series, both still alive in movie versions, and though 009-1 is more grounded in its grungy, dystopian world than the original manga it's still entertaining enough on its own terms as a virtually all-female spy movie that doesn't go woossy in its tough action.
It helps a lot that director SAKAMOTO Koichi 坂本浩一, who also handles the action, himself comes from Kamen Rider movies. Here, he serves up a full menu of cyborgs, zombies, VFX splatter, softcore lesbian titillation and bondage tease without a trace of nudity or real perversity. With a functional script by veteran HASEGAWA Keiichi 長谷川圭一 (from the Ultraman movies) that constructs some vague psychological conflict for the heroine before flying totally off the dial in the twist-heavy finale, 009-1 delivers enough Nipponese madness in its final 20 minutes to make up for the earlier, by-the-numbers first hour. Production is smooth enough, on a budget, with most of the money sensibly spent on the snappily-staged action and decorative visual effects. Sakamoto also worked recently with the statuesque Nagasawa on Travelers トラベラーズ and has another female action-fest, Girl's Blood 赤ｘピンク, due in 2014.