Akihisa Okamoto’s film Lady Battle Cop (1990) is everything one could want or expect from vintage Japanese V-Cinema. Lady Battle Cop is violent, campy, low-budget, and over the top. It is a Takusatsu rip-off of RoboCop (1987) that dispenses with all of that film’s political satire. Lady Battle Cop isn’t sophisticated or artful filmmaking, it’s just a lot of fun.
One of the silliest but more compelling aspects of the film is that Battle Cop aka Kaoru Mikoshiba (Azusa Nakamura) herself retains her identity even after receiving her cyborg enhancements post-massacre. Battle Cop hooks one of her earrings into her suit (designed by Keita Amemiya) and continues to wear bright red lipstick, defiantly asserting herself over the manufactured Battle Cop identity. It’s an unintentional feminist touch that gives dimension to the Kaoru character who is otherwise terribly underdeveloped.
Another highlight of this goofball movie is the character of Amadeus (Masaru Matsuda), the telekinetic strongman enforcer of the diabolical cartel. Amadeus functions narratively like the ED-209 in RoboCop though his powers and appearance come entirely from the Takusatsu superhero genre. It’s an interesting mash-up of East meets West that actually becomes something like the Frank Miller RoboCop comics. This genre bending also adds power to the subtextual commentary on Japanese isolationism that runs throughout Lady Battle Cop.
However, Lady Battle Cop is best enjoyed as a resourcefully made and well executed low budget spectacle. Lady Battle Cop is not a bad movie, it is just unpretentious and fun. Who doesn’t want to see a bad guy get a live grenade stuffed down his shirt? Who doesn’t want to thrill to the sight of Battle Cop mowing down henchman with a handgun? Who isn’t delighted that, under her helmet, Battle Cop is still happy-go-lucky Azusa Nakamura? I hope the answer is “no one”.