Wednesday, July 17, 2013

REVIEW: Wonder Women

Wonder Women
Director: Robert Vincent O'Neill
Year 1973

Wonder Women is a fantastic spy-centric 70's gem which takes all of the fun aspects of the espionage genre from the mid sixties and mixes it all up into a ridiculously fun exploitation flick that often boggles the mind. Filled to the brim with sexy kung-fu women, dangerous thugs and exotic locations, the film goes all out in displaying its outlandish heart on its sleeve. Lensed in the Philippines and comprised of an international cast, Wonder Women is a lost gem of a feature, which surprises at every turn, often taking the viewer into unfathomable situations that serve to entertain exponentially.

The film follows insurance investigator, and all around badass, Mike Harber, as he is assigned to a most unusual case. It turns out that the world's greatest athletes have been disappearing in startling succession and all signs point to a mysterious organization off the coast of Manila. Run by a brilliantly mad surgeon named Dr. Tsu, the all female group has been experimenting with body transplants which require them to abduct famous athletes in order to sell their body parts to the highest bidder. Racing against time, Mike Harber begins a harrowing search for the most recent missing athlete, but his investigation won't be easy. Crooked con-men, deformed creatures, and Dr. Tsu and her army of ravishing and leggy assassins are just a few of Harber's many obstacles in this most outlandish tale of delectable and action oriented sights.

Ross Hagen takes on the role of Mike Harber, the quick-witted and unstoppable insurance investigator powerhouse. Ridiculously cocky and abundantly womanizing, Hagen's portrayal of this sure-headed hero is something to witness. Sometimes slick, but mostly accident prone, Hagen gives an interesting performance that is both adrenaline fused and comically silly. The hybrid of sorts makes for some rather entertaining viewing, and his charisma is without a doubt what holds most of these wacky antics together. You can tell that he is having fun with the role and through this whimsical manner, you begin to be infected by the fun of it all. Whether he's toppling down a staircase, being beaten to a pulp by a sexy kung-fu artist, or dishing out some well deserved justice, Ross Hagen makes it all so damn enjoyable and a real treat to witness.

Maria De Aragon steals the show as the ravishing female assassin Linda, whose gorgeous figure and hypnotizing looks literally set the film on fire. She throws herself into this role, as she punches and kicks her way through it like a champ. She may not be the most athletic or accomplished of fighters, but damn does she give a fiery performance that never holds back. Often thrust into a number of action scenes throughout the film, Maria bursts to life in each case, giving the movie a much needed injection of female badassery. I'd have to say that she was an excellent and pitch-perfect femme fatale for the film, leaving Nancy Kwan's Dr. Tsu character in the dust. Like Hagen's role in the film, Maria's presence in this movie is an essential piece to the puzzle and she is one of the glaring reasons on why this feature is so damn enjoyable.

It's the oddities and unusual nature of the movie that really meld well with the entertaining performances of Hagen and Maria. From a child assassin, to a strange skinny oriental mob leader, to a mad surgeon, to an army of sexy killers, to even a handful of deformed beast men, this film has it all, and it's all integrated in a way that truly takes the viewer by surprise. You never quite know what will happen next and that is one of the more enjoyable aspects of the production. Taping into its exploitation roots, the film delivers one crazy set piece after another, until your head begins to spin from the strangeness of it all.

Another odd facet of the movie is the inclusion of cult actor Sid Haig as Dr. Tsu's associate. He exits the movie as mysteriously as he enters, and in the end you really don't know much about his character other than he is a part of the overall scheme that Dr. Tsu has cooking. His disappearance from the film is hilarious, because he literally just vanishes mid sequence. As wacky as it seems for a side character to just fade into obscurity, it fits in perfectly with the overall atmosphere of the production. In a movie filled with lethal babes and an unstoppable ladies man insurance inspector, you really have to throw logic out the window and just sit back and be entertained.

Wonder Women is an unapologetic trip through exploitation action cinema, which derives much of its style from its 60's Eurospy counterparts. Sprinkled with a heavy dose of outlandish humor and unprecedented weirdness, this outstanding gem is one for the record books. From beginning to end, you'll struggle to guess what will happen next and the spontaneous nature of the production is one of its strongest assets. Ross Hagen and Maria De Aragon are exceptionally engaging in their roles with Hagen bringing his charisma in full force and Maria looking absolutely breathtaking as she kicks major ass. Nancy Kwan and Sid Haig do a commendable job with their characters, but the true stars are Hagen and Maria.

In the most simplistic of ways, Wonder Women is a film that is ridiculously off the wall. In the most outstanding of ways, the film manages to pack an enormous amount of weirdness into its quick running time, but without sacrificing the coherent nature of its story. It's wild and inventive, yet it never forgets that above all things, it must entertain. I was highly satisfied with this feature and fortunate enough to come across it when I did, because it truly is a lost gem. If you're a fan of these types of films and enjoy a good old fashion oddity, then give this one a go. Wonder Women is truly a spectacle and it is one that you're not going to want to miss. This film is absolutely.....

Nice...... Shorts?

Microphone check... 1...2....1..2!

What a way to go!

This is romantic and all Bob, but I'm just not into you.

Pull my sexy finger Bitch!

If only there was a way out of this joint.

Give me some skin home-slice.

Sweet Lord Almighty! That's the come hither look!

Someone help the cameraman! I think he's having a heart attack!

So how about that second date?

Looks like someone's a third wheel.

Mike Harber gets caught with his pants down.

What the hell are you weirdos watching?!?!?!

It's a nice zoo you got here. Now where the hell is the exit.

Is this real pleather?

Sid Haig loves his pimp cane.

Bad deformed creature....... BAD!

Peace out homies.


  1. This movie used to always be incorrectly listed in TV Guide as the 1974 TV movie version of "Wonder Woman" starring Cathy Lee Crosby. I think I watched it every time, anyway.

  2. It's hard to not get sucked up in all the ridiculous stuff that happens in this flick, so I can understand why you kept watching even though it wasn't the Wonder Woman tv movie. Great wacky fun stuff!