Cutie Honey (2004)
By: Craig Villinger on April 18, 2007  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
DVD
Eastern Eye (Australia). Region 4, PAL. 1.78:1 (16:9 enhanced). Japanese DD 5.1, Japanese DD 2.0. English Subtitles. 89 minutes
The Movie
Credits
Director: Hideaki Anno
Starring: Eriko Sato, Jun Murakami, Mikako Ichikawa, Eisuke Sakai, Mitsuhiro Oikawa
Screenplay: Gô Nagai
Music: Kumi Koda
Country: Japan
AKA: Kyûti Hani
After winning over admirers as a Manga character and the star of several Anime series' dating back to the early seventies, perky android super heroine Cutie Honey makes the inevitable leap to the world of live-action cinema in this latest incarnation from Director Hideaki Anno, creator of the cult Anime phenomenon Neon Genesis Evangelion.

By day she hides behind her Honey Kisaragi alter-ego – a vivacious, air-headed office worker who just can't seem to fit in anywhere – but when trouble calls she responds by shouting "Honeeeeeeeeeey Flash!" and is transformed into Cutie Honey – a super spunky super heroine, rebuilt by science, who can assume numerous cunning disguises, take on dozens of villains at the one time, and fend off thousands of bullets with a few flicks of her sword!

The plot – which is virtually irrelevant in a kitschy, fun filled romp like this - has something to do with a nefarious organisation called Panther Claw which has kidnapped Cutie's Uncle as part of their villainous leaders ongoing quest for eternal life, and so it is up to Cutie to save the day with the help of an uptight police Detective and a nosey reporter with a hidden agenda.

As I prepared to take my first dip into the world of Cutie Honey I didn't know what to expect after hitting the play button, but the opening ten minutes – with vanity shots of its scantily clad star followed by an outrageous comic book style action set-piece - set the tone perfectly and gave a pretty good idea of what was to follow. Putting it simply, Cutie Honey is cheesy...it's campy…and it's a whole lot of fun! Imagine an episode of the classic 60's Batman television series with a distinctly Japanese make-over and you'll get an idea.

Any person with even the slightest interest in the female form is bound to be transfixed by the sight of star Eriko Sato, who spends much of the film in various outfits (or her underwear), and if her looks don't win you over her enthusiastic performance as Cutie Honey – a character that is virtually bubbling with infectious personality - surely will. Cutie is one of the most easily likeable characters I have seen in recent years, and makes for a refreshing change from the repressed - and sometimes downright depressed - American big screen super heroes we've become accustomed to.

On the downside though, after its crash-bang opening the action is limited to a few minor scuffles here and there as Cutie sporadically takes on the colour coded and outrageously designed Tiger Claw minions (Gold Claw, Crimson Claw, etc) in between frequent costume changes and snack food binges to recharge her powers, and the ending in particular proved to be a disappointment as it ditched the biffo completely in favour of a more existential – and dare I say sappy – climax which waffled on about the meaning of love, or something like that. Also, those who like their films with a distinctly Western sensibility should be warned – Cutie Honey is loaded with trademark Japanese kookiness, and is at times just plain weird. Sato's hyper-active gesticulations and facial expressions would certainly be considered "over-acting" by most Gaijin audiences, and in one of the films more surreal moments a Tiger Claw minion bursts into a song and dance routine before his fight to the death with Cutie, which is certainly not something you'd see in your average Jerry Bruckheimer production!

Put these minor quibbles aside however and you'll find an engaging and agreeable feature which comes much closer to capturing the off-the-wall feel of Japanese Anime than most live-action adaptations I've seen (no surprise really given Anno's Anime background). Hardcore exploitation fans may be disappointed by the family friendly titillation and cartoon-ish violence, but while Cutie Honey is certainly an in-offensive flick, I reckon the boys from the OFLC must have been in a lenient mood when they gave this a PG rating, as it still has its fair share of exposed skin and several darker moments – not to mention a none-too-subtle lesbian sub-text.
Video
Cutie Honey is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio with 16x9 enhancement, and is free of any annoying artefacts. The image is sharp – although perhaps not quite as sharp as the latest blockbusters from the major Hollywood studios, but it's still pleasing to the eye - and the day-glo colour scheme looks every bit as good as it would have on the big screen during the film's Japanese theatrical run.

As is usually the case with Madman's foreign language releases, the English subtitles are easy to read and never clash or blend in with the on-screen action.

Audio
The default Japanese 5.1 channel audio track is loud and clear, and the surround speakers are used aggressively during the action sequences, and more subtly during the films slower moments, while the subwoofer ads extra punch to the catchy theme tune and explosions/gunfire effects. A slightly less exciting Japanese 2.0 audio track is also provided.
Extra Features
The only significant extra on the disc is an entertaining twenty minute making-of featurette which consists of interviews with cast and crew as well as a great deal of behind the scenes footage.

We also get a Cutie Honey teaser trailer and theatrical trailer as well as seven Japanese TV spots; an image gallery containing thirty three pics which appear to be nothing more than screen grabs from the movie, and trailers for Godzilla - Tokyo SOS, Please Teacher - Vol 1 and Seven Samurai.
The Verdict
Cutie Honey is hands down the sexiest android super heroine you will ever see, and this film is bound to be a favourite with cult minded fans, despite its PG rating. Just sit back, relax, and let the cutieness consume you!
Movie Score
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