• Wonder Women

    Released by: Bayview Entertainment/Retromedia
    Released on: June 18, 2013.
    Director: Bob O'Neil
    Cast: Ross Hagen, Nancy Kwan, Vic Diaz, Sid Haig
    Year: 1973
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    The Movie:

    Directed by Bob O’Neil in 1973, Wonder Women is not a deep film. The story follows Doctor Tsu (Nancy Kwan), a sort of rogue doctor who acts as a surgeon operating on her own island just off the coast of the Philippines. Tsu doesn’t work alone, however – not only does she have a flamboyant accountant on hand named Gregourious (Sid Haig) but she also has a small army of foxy ladies trained in the deadliest of the martial arts on hand to do her bidding. She uses these deadly women to kidnap various athletes from various countries who she then uses in diabolical experiments.

    Tsu’s surgical specialty is playing jigsaw puzzle with body parts. If you’re a rich guy and you wish you had a better body or you want your brain put into the body of a strapping young man, she’ll help you out… for a price, of course. That’s where those abducted athletes come into play – she needs stock. Enter Mike Harber (Ross Hagen), a coy insurance investigator who we’re told works for Lloyd's Of London. When a famous a Jai-alai player disappears, Mike is sent to Manila to find out what happened to him. If that means taking on some motorcycle thugs lead by a guy named Won Ton Charlie, so be it, he’s man enough for the job. With some help from a driver named Lapu-Lapu (Vic Diaz), Harber digs deep enough that he starts to uncover Tsu’s secret shenanigans but her army of killer kung-fu beauties and a few random mutants left over from random experiments are definitely going to make life difficult for our hero…

    From the opening shot of a topless woman swimming in red hued water (a very Bond-esque opening sequence) to the weird comedic relief with Vic Diaz through to the finale where we voyage deep into the heart of the mad doctor’s lair, Wonder Women is pretty nutty stuff. The whole thing is ridiculous, but really, what’s not to love here? Never mind the fact that the storyline more or less resolves itself without Harber’s direct involvement. When you’ve got fox after fox (Roberta Collins, Claire Polan, Maria De Aragon, Shirley Washington, Gail Hansen and Marilyn Joi all pop up here) running around in skimpy outfits kicking dudes and Russ Hagen slumming it in full on ‘lecherous white guy mode’ you really can’t lose. Add to that equation a whole bunch of awesome colored lights and weird machine in the end, Diaz playing a driver who wears a jacket that says ‘I’M A DRIVER’ on the back and a crazy brain transplant sequence and it becomes easy to forgive the fact that the movie really doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

    The film moves at a good pace, it really hits the ground running and manages to keep things bizarre and crazy enough that its eighty minute running time never lags. There’s loads and loads of crazy seventies style on display, that, along with the fuzzed out score by Carson Whitsett, make this very much a product of its time, but most reading this will see that as the positive that it is and not a slam against the movie. Where else are you going to see Sid Haig decked out like a Purple Rain-era Prince and Ross Hagen bagging chicks and blasting away in a leisure suit with a sawed off shotgun? A giant basketball player running around with part of his head missing, exposing his brain, which puzzlingly has had a flashing colored light attached to it? Bruno Punzalan, instantly recognizable from the Blood Island movies and Savage Sisters (made a year after this one and also starring Vic Diaz!), also pops up in this one. Cinematic craziness of the best kind and the highest order!


    Wonder Women arrives on DVD transferred from 35mm archival elements framed at 1.78.1 anamorphic widescreen. The image is heavy on grain but that’s not a bad thing. Some minor print damage is easy enough to spot but overall the elements here were in decent enough shape. Colors are occasionally a little faded but overall pretty nice and the framing is solid here as well. All in all, a pretty good transfer.

    The only audio option for the feature is an English language Dolby Digital Mono track. This track won’t blow anyone’s doors off but it gets the job done. Dialogue is easy to follow and if any hiss or distortion makes its way into the track it’s minimal. Levels are fine and the score sounds good. Not a fancy mix, but it works.

    There are a load of extra features on this disc starting with a commentary track from director Bob O'Neil moderated by Fred Olan Ray. It’s a decent track that isn’t always on topic and which goes off in a few unexpected directions but which definitely has a good sense of humor behind it. O’Neil dishes some interesting trivia on the film, its cast and crew and what it was like working on this picture in the Philippines.

    That’s not all though – we also get a video interview with stuntman Erik Cord who tells of his experiences doing stunts and action scenes in the film. Also worth checking out are a few minutes of Super 8mm clips that were shot on set during the film’s original production in Manila.
    More interesting are the inclusion of some European scenes not included in the US theatrical cut that serves as the feature attraction. These scenes are ‘cooler’ in that there isn’t much in the way of nudity or violence here but instead they offer up some interesting character development bits and pieces. Also seen here is a six minute collection of scenes from the uncompleted sequel, Warrior Women, featuring Ross Hagen reprising his role as Mike Harber.

    Rounding out the extras are a still gallery, a few radio spots, TV Spots and the film’s amazing theatrical trailer along with some static menus and chapter selection.

    The Final Word:

    Wonder Women is a lot of fun – inspired lunacy that moves at a fast pace performed by a great cast. Retromedia’s DVD is surprisingly stacked with some seriously great extras and offers up the movie in very nice shape as well. A ridiculously enjoyable release.

    Comments 3 Comments
    1. bgart13's Avatar
      bgart13 -
      I thought this had been pulled after all.
    1. Jason C's Avatar
      Jason C -
      It appears to be in stock everywhere but Amazon
    1. Jason C's Avatar
      Jason C -
      I've been sweating this last week. My copy had been set to "Allocated", waiting for IRRESISTIBLE IMPULSE, at ImportCDs. I got a shipping notification last night.