Kawaii, desu ne?

Lethal Panther + Deadly China Dolls (Eastern Heroes, 13.99) – Ok, pay attention. “Lethal Panther” was not actually originally called “Lethal Panther”, but “Lethal Panther 2”. However, when the rights to it were bought, no-one had got the first part, so it underwent a quick renaming for the UK release. Okay. Except, now they do have the original “Lethal Panther”. Obviously it needed a name-change, thus it will appear here as “Deadly China Dolls”. Luckily, this is not a serious problem as the two films are almost totally independent.

To take Lethal Panther first (that’s the UK tape of that title…I begin to wish I’d thought of something else to fill in two random pages!): what we have is a cheap quickie, probably shot in the Philippines, starring Yukari Oshima and Philip Kao. Or rather, “starring” them, as the guy who gets most screen time doesn’t even rate an English-language credit! But it’s still a competent little film. Said hero, with Interpol, is out to get the gangster who killed his wife. However, in a nice twist, he previously put the gangster’s brother behind bars, where he died. Or put another way, “you killed my wife and must pay, but hang on, didn’t I kill your brother?”.

Oshima is always worth watching – the recently rereleased ‘Iron Angels’ (aka ‘Angel’) is great fun, though we must still wait for ‘The Outlaw Brothers’ to see Oshima at her best. Here, she excels in an opening sequence that seems more like an arcade game than a realistic portrayal of a gun-battle. Unfortunately, the editing in all the action sequences is awful, choppy and disjointed, which does no-one involved any service at all. This is most notable in the climax, which also blatantly thieves music from “Terminator 2”! Lightly enjoyable tosh, with a high body-count and mortality rate: put it this way, the hero will be renting a telephone box for his next family get-together… C

Deadly China Dolls is from shlockmaster Godfrey Ho, an engaging bloke, the Hong Kong equivalent of Fred Olen Ray, who specialises in making truly cheap movies, or even splicing together footage from unfinished ones into totally incoherent messes. A real character, his exploits include a sequel to the notorious “Men Behind The Sun”, made in China, which used bits of real corpses when the special effects weren’t up to task. However, DCD is one of his better, more polished movies, sporting a cheery mix of sex and violence. The former is supplied by Japanese actress Yoko Miyamoto, who takes her clothes off so regularly throughout the film, that you could probably set your watch by the appearance of her nipples. The violence is from Sibelle Hu, whom I’d have said was far too nice a girl to appear in something like this.

As for the plot, your guess is as good as mine. It’s something about counterfeit money, and Interpol (almost the only link with the firs…secon…ah, other movie). It has to be said, I originally saw this film in a German language print, and don’t think I’m any the wiser after seeing the English language version! It is also derivative as hell, with one notable “Basic Instinct” ripoff – remarkable because it came out two years earlier… But who cares? This is one to watch for ass-kicking and nekkid babes, and on that score, it’s a palpable hit. Put your brain in the fridge when you’re taking out the six-pack and the double-chocolate chip ice-cream. B-

Plastic Little (Kiseki, 10.99?) – “Maris the Wondergirl” this ain’t: the cover leaps out and grabs you by the hormones. propelled by a wonderfully sleazy picture of three worryingly young-looking babes wearing thin coats of red or grey paint. [And it seems chilly…] I notice no VPRC logo, incidentally, so will it get to the shops? Regardless, viewers will soon see why it’s known in fandom as “Little Silicone”. You may think “Gunbuster” was obsessed with breasts, but this lot are a tad ahead in that category. At least ‘buster had three hours to work with, poor old “Plastic Little” (a title of uncertain origin) has only 50 mins but still fits in just as many busts.

Unsurprisingly, this results in slight weaknesses – like after about half an hour, the plot runs out. Until then, it’s not been too bad. Heroine Tita (34B or thereabout, yet a mere teen. Queue joke about “big breaths”.) is a Pet Shop Hunter; no, she doesn’t stalk wild buildings, but gets creatures for pet shops. [Animal activists are picketing Kiseki as we speak] She hits trouble when she rescues a girl from military police (Elysse, 16 and, oh, maybe 36D!!!), taking her craft and crew into the sort of danger from which only the wildest pseudo-science will rescue them. Beautifully animated, unquestionably. However, if you’re a fan of more petite babes, you might wish more attention had been paid elsewhere! B-

Dominion Act 5 (Manga, 5.99) – Or New Dominion, Act 1? There’s debate on this point. Whatever, major problem on the kawaii front is the absence of the Puma Twins, among the cutest creations yet released on the anime marketplace. Their absence is galling: it means we’re left with the small-but-perfectly-formed Leona Ozaki (left) in the cute stakes, and she’s a tad tomboyish for my tastes. I don’t generally find a fondness for armour-piercing ammunition a great turn-on.

So, it is the next instalment of Masamune Shirow’s story of the polluted near-future, with the Tank Police still trying to take out criminals, and usually “redeveloping” a few block en route. This situation is exacerbated by the arrival of an “expert” from HQ, who is not what he seems…

This was slightly disappointing: Manga have cut from two episodes per tape to one, which as well as using extra shelf-space, leaves you with no real sense of continuity. Though whether there actually is any won’t be resolved until the next tape, I guess: the first four episodes did seem to have a thread, with common characters and plots, but it’s hard to see how anything can develop from the mayhem which ends this one. Mind-candy, no more; let’s hope for better over the next five (groan) tapes – especially the return of Annipuma and her pseudo-sis! C