Blu-ray Review: Wonder Women

A few days ago a thought hits me that it’s been a while since a Blu-ray has shown up with Vic Diaz in the cast. For quite a few years Vic was always popping up in DVD and Blu-rays including Night of the Cobra Woman, Black Mama, White Mama,The Big Bird Cage and Raw Force. You didn’t shoot a movie in the Philippines without having a sweet role for Vic. Cinematically speaking he was to Manila what the Eiffel Tower is to Paris. He must be in the frame to prove you were there. That’s why I rejoiced seeing Vic appear in Wonder Women as a cab driver. Immediately upon hitting the play button, it was obvious the film was made to be part of Vinegar Syndrome since the opening theme is used in the label’s logo music. Wonder Women is an an all-star exploitation effort.

Before you immediately write this entire film off as an Asian rip-off of Wonder Woman, be assured that this is not about superheroes. Things get going when an elite squad of women go around the world with tranquilizer darts. Their targets are elite athletes from the worlds of basketball, polo and Jai alai. They aren’t holding them hostage. They’re organ harvesting and selling those parts to old rich guys that want fresh bodies. Dr. Tsu (The World of Suzie Wong‘s Nancy Kwan) has come up with ground breaking techniques for transplants and also runs her female abduction squad. Her main man (The Devil’s Rejects‘ Sid Haig) is doing a fine job finding rich clients. Things are looking great in this business. But then an insurance investigator (Sidehackers from Mystery Science Theater 3000‘s Ross Hagen) flies into town and begins to poke around. Dr Tsu orders him taken out quick. And she probably would have waxed him fast except she didn’t count upon a plucky local cabbie (Vic Diaz). First she sends the local guys and when that fails, there’s the deadly seductive charms of her main girls (Caged Heat‘s Roberta Collins. Can the investigator survive without cashing out his own policy?

A slight warning to people who get upset at scenes of cockfighting. There’s cockfighting as part of those things you do in Manila. It’s not a bloody mess. What’s amazing is that the film got a PG back in 1973. It opens with women swimming around topless. This isn’t likes a high contrast glimpse found in a Bond opening. There’s nothing discreet in the pool. Plus there’s a few gross moments at the transplant lab. and a seductive Chess match that includes exciting fruit stems. This should have been R. They must have caught the MPAA ratings board on a good day.

Wonder Women is a high point in that era when low budget filmmaker fled to the Philippines to get more bang for their buck. They didn’t have to worry about pesky laws found in Hollywood as they shot up the town and zipped around the streets. Plus they got the joy of working with Vic Diaz in his prime. Wonder Women tries its hardest to look like a downgraded James Bond flick, but comfortably falls into a tribute to the Matt Helm movies starring Dean Martin minus the musical interludes. The only thing you should wonder if why you didn’t see Wonder Women sooner.

The video is 1.85:1 anamorphic. The transfer give you a sense of how much wonder is in these women. You get a good view of Manila. The audio DTS-HD MA Mono. The levels balances the bullets and the funky soundtrack properly. The movie is subtitled.

Audio Commentary features co-writer/director Robert Vincent O’Neill.

European Cut (90:15) is a little more spicy.

Q&A (12:44) comes from a screening of Wonder Women back in 2007 at the New Beverly Cinema. The guests include O’Neill, Nancy Kwan, Ross Hagen, Sid Haig, and Roberta Collins. There’s plenty of tales of being in the Philippines.

TV Spots (1:50) offer three ads.

Still Gallery (1:07) has lobby cards and poster art.

Theatrical Trailer (1:55) sets up how the wonder is sold.

Vinegar Syndrome presents Wonder Women. Directed by Robert O’Neil. Screenplay by: Robert O’Neil & Lou Whitehill. Starring: Nancy Kwan, Ross Hagen, Roberta Collins, Sid Haig and Vic Diaz. Rated: PG. Running Time: 84 minutes. Released: August 28, 2018.

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