Today’s selection: Lady Battle Cop (1990, dir. Akihisa Okamoto)
Subgenre: Henshin Hero (well, a cyborg who puts on armor via montage)
Available from: ADV (VHS; amazon says that it’s Section 23, but they didn’t exist when the tape was made)
When I previously spoke about ADV’s RubberSuit imprint (see Dragon Blue), there was a title I forgot about because it never made the transition to DVD: Lady Battle Cop. Lady Battle Cop, like Dragon Blue, is not up to snuff with titles like Daimajin and Gamera 3, but I’m still glad that some company took a chance to release it to the English-speaking world. So, what is it?
Lady Battle Cop is a metal hero, sort of. Here’s how it works: The Toei company began their Metal Hero brand with a trilogy of shows called the “Space Sheriffs” (Gavan, Sharivan, and Shaider) starting in 1982. The shows were popular, and the brand continued for spiritual successors, as well as knock-offs. Some tapes of these shows made it across the Pacific, inspiring (in part) a 1987 Hollywood film called Robocop. Robocop was tremendously successful, so the Metal Heroes that came later attempted to emulate it, especially 1989’s Mobile Cop Jiban. Toei then released today’s shockingly similar-to-Robocop movie in 1990, but it’s never counted in Metal Hero chronology (maybe because it’s a movie instead of a show, but more likely because of the female protagonist. I never understood why stuff like Machineman or Bycrosser didn’t count, either.).
At any rate, it’s not a great movie. The suit is fine (a Keita Amemiya design), the music and setting are decent (the futuristic city matte painting, again, feels very Robocop-inspired), and some of the action sequences are okay. The problem is, the villains are completely unmemorable, so there’s neither an ED209 nor aliens from Maku space, just standard thugs. Like I said, the title never made the transition to DVD (either in the US or in Japan, though it did get a laserdisc), an indication of luke-warm reception. I wish Toei would try again with some more (not overtly sexualized) female protagonists like this, though. Also, a Lady Battle Cop Figuarts toy would be baller.