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Film / Wonder Women

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No, not that one

"This movie has nothing to do with the superhero Wonder Woman. It's just this weird crime caper with some sci-fi thrown in, shot in the Philippines for, like, a hundred dollars."
Kevin Murphy managing expectations, RiffTrax

Wonder Women is a 1973 American sci-fi action-crime horror exploitation film directed by Robert Vincent O'Neil (Angel (1984)), and produced by and stars Ross Hagen, a gravel-voiced tough guy known for appearing in such schlock as The Sidehackers and The Hellcats. Other notable cast members include Nancy Kwan as the villainess, Vic Diaz (“the Filipino Peter Lorre”) as a zany sidekick, Maria de Aragon (Greedo herself) as a henchwoman scorned, and Sid Haig.

In the early seventies, the sinister Dr. Tsu intends to transplant the brain of a dying millionaire into a healthy young body. Naturally the only way to acquire a healthy young body is to kidnap a world-famous jai alai player, and naturally the only people qualified to kidnap a world-famous jai alai player are a half-dozen foxy babes armed with tranquillizer guns. This plan may sound foolproof, but it has one flaw: the world-famous jai alai player just happens to be insured by Lloyd's of London for half a million dollars. Rather than pay the claim, the insurance brokers hire a detective named Mike Harber to search Manila for the missing athlete, and if possible bring him back alive.


  • Action Girl: The villain's crew is entirely composed of these.
  • Afro Asskicker: One of the Wonder Women. Of course, her default stance is showing off her She-Fu.
  • All Men Are Perverts: Mike is completely and utterly obsessed with sex, even when it's not even remotely germane to the conversation.
  • Alternate DVD Commentary: A comedic commentary was recorded by RiffTrax in 2015.
  • Antagonist Title: Presumably the title refers to Tsu's female kidnapping squad, although the term “wonder women” is never used in dialogue.
  • Asian Drivers: Our introduction to Manila is a POV shot of chaotic traffic.
  • A-Team Firing: The bad guys open fire on Harber from just meters away, but despite being a big slow-moving target in a pale blue outfit, he remains miraculously unscathed.
    • Taken to Artistic License – Physics levels when Harber manages to block a point-blank shot from Linda with a pillow.note 
    Kevin Murphy: Bulletproof pillow!? What is this? A Best Western!?
  • Bad Boss: Serve Tsu's favorite food incorrectly, and you'll be either executed or become a living organ bank.
  • Bad Ass Decay: Linda gets less effective each time she's on screen. At first, she seems fairly competent and deadly, then she misses a shot at point blank range when trying to kill Mike, then ineffectively runs away, but he's so stupid he lets her escape anyhow, and then out of nowhere, she turns on her boss and decides to accompany him out of the compound, basically just cowering beside him when every other point in the movie, she's had agency.
  • Bad People Abuse Animals: The film features a real, unedited cockfight right in the middle. And it lasts for close to five minutes. Charming.
  • Bazaar of the Bizarre: During a chase scene through a bazaar, there is a brief shot of an Asian swamp eel wriggling across the ground. It is on screen for less than a second, has no connection to anything in the plot, and never appears again. The RiffTrax crew can't even agree what the thing was supposed to be.
    Mike Nelson: I'm gonna go with Cthuhlu's dick.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Tsu's henchwomen are a sampler of different races and hair colors. There are two blondes, a redhead, a black girl sporting an afro, and an Asian.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Dozens of people are gunned down, but the filmmakers never use any squibs or fake blood. It's especially egregious when Mike blasts a woman point blank in the face with a sawed off shotgun, and all you see is her fall down without a drop of blood being spilled, when her head should have exploded like a cantaloupe.
  • B-Movie: At least it aspires to the level of a B.
  • Boom, Headshot!: One of the mookettes takes a shot in the face from Harber's hand-cannon. Fortunately, the blast doesn't appear to break the skin.
  • Bow Chicka Wow Wow: The soundtrack usually sounds like it was lifted from a vintage porno, except for a few scenes featuring carnival Wurlitzer music or acid-rock Hammond organ noodling.
  • Brain in a Jar: "Goliath", the former basketball player, has a variant on this. His exposed brain is inside a jar on his head. Gregorious stabs his brain with his cane sword, killing him instantly.
  • Brain Transplant: The villain's specialty is being paid to take old men's brains and put them into young, muscular men's bodies.
  • Character Shilling: Dr. Tsu and her dragon speak about Mike Harber's remarkable intelligence and virility (“his brain and sex”). The viewer doesn't see much evidence of these qualities. In fact, Harber comes across as a bit of a blunt instrument.
    Mike Harber: I see, that explains, uhh... the kidnapping of, uh... the jai alai player, what's his name... and the other missing athletes.
    Mike Nelson: Did he use his brain or his sex to figure that out?
  • Chickification: An especially egregious example. After Linda has singlehandedly thrown Tsu's headquarters into chaos and rescued the do-nothing hero, she instantly surrenders her weapon to him, and begins to follow him around like a puppy.
    Bill: (as Linda) Thank you for taking charge. I was so afraid when I killed three guards to rescue you.
  • Coffin Contraband: The villains transport their newly tranquillized hostage in a coffin rigged up with an oxygen tank.
  • Concealment Equals Cover: Harber uses a hotel pillow to stop a bullet fired from about five feet away.
    Kevin: Bulletproof pillow? What is this, a Best Western?
  • Creepy Child: The slingshot kid who randomly hits a bird with his slingshot. It's one of the film's many Big Lipped Alligator Moments, too.
  • Death by Falling Over: How Linda kills her blonde nemesis.
    Kevin: And she's brought down by an errant ear-slap.
    • The white-clad henchwoman who turns good is instantly killed by one of Tsu's experiments gently lowering her to the ground.
  • The Dragon: Mr. Gregorious, the handsome fellow who finds clients for Tsu.
  • Dragon Lady: The villain, Dr. Tsu, is supposed to be one of these, but her penchant for comfortable turtlenecks and cardigans somewhat undercuts her exotic menace.
  • Dragon with an Agenda: As all hell breaks loose at Tsu's lair, Gregorious has already seen the writing on the wall and begun preparations to escape nonchalantly with the money.
  • Draft Dodging: The hippie beggar came to the Phillipines to avoid conscription.
  • Dull Surprise: Harber isn't especially shocked by Dr. Tsu's human organ vault.
  • Empathy Doll Shot: After the basketball player is tranquilized, the camera cuts to a shot of his basketball, bouncing sadly away.
  • Excuse Me While I Multitask: While having "brain sex" with Harber, Tsu responds to an emergency call nonchalantly. Needless to say, Harber is completely cut off from the world in his Orgasmatron.
  • Exploitation Film: A prime example of grindhouse film and one of Quentin Tarantino's inspirations.
  • Eye Scream: Gooey, freshly removed eyeballs are a favorite prop, and show up repeatedly in Dr. Tsu's laboratory.
  • Fanservice: Most of the film. Starting with topless swimmers in the opening credits while the epilogue introduces yet another bikini-clad woman, just to give the audience one more piece of meat to gawk at before the film is over.
    Kevin: It's called Wonder Women because I WONDER why any WOMEN would agree to be in it!
  • Fruit Cart: A flower cart, technically, but it still shows up during the very long chase sequence.
  • Going Down with the Ship: After her nefarious enterprise has (apparently?) been destroyed, Dr. Tsu stoically accepts her fate. She makes a brief speech to Harber, then presses a button and evaporates in a puff of white smoke.
    Bill: So she was a giant sack of flour all along!
  • Good Is Dumb: At one point, Harber corners Tsu and prepares to shoot her with his hand-cannon. When she claims that the glass in front of her is bulletproof, he instantly believes her and lowers his gun.
    Mike Nelson: (as Harber) I trust you entirely, power-mad supervillain.
  • Gun Nut: One of the henchwomen, Vera, is especially trigger happy, constantly stroking her gun. When another henchwoman goes after a piece of man-flesh she likes, she cocks her gun and growls, "Hands off! He's mine, bitch!"
  • Hand Cannon: Harber's choice of sidearm is a weird miniature blunderbuss thing.
    Kevin: Did he gear up in an antique firearms museum?
  • Immodest Orgasm: In a subversion, it's the man who gets off during "brain sex" much more demonstrably. In fact, Mike begins a few minutes before Tsu.
  • Immortality Seeker: Mr. Paulson, a decrepit old millionaire, is willing to spend his fortune to be transferred into the body of a young jai alai player.
  • Informed Ability: Mike Harber, despite a hardcore curriculum vitae, is decidedly underwhelming on screen.
    Bill: (as Ross inexplicably tumbles down a flight of stairs trying to put his shirt on) I NEVER FIGURED OUT STAIRS!
    Mike Nelson: Dude, she's outrunning you in three-inch heels. You're never allowed to mention your CIA badass credentials again.
    • Linda says, "I never miss" literally three seconds before missing Mike with her silenced handgun at point blank range.
  • Island Base: Dr. Tsu's compound is apparently supposed to be on an island, to judge by the single still photograph used as an establishing shot.
  • Karma Houdini: Gregorious apparently gets away scot-free.
  • Kung-Shui: During the hotel room fight, every “wooden” object appears to be made of styrofoam.
  • Leave the Camera Running: Hope you like cockfighting! Oh, and the fact that one of the vehicles during the long chase scene definitely hit a pedestrian by accident, not a stunt guy.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Even after falling into a pond, Linda keeps on her green negligee.
  • Living MacGuffin: The jai alai player.
  • Made of Explodium: In one chase scene, a simple wooden cart bursts into flame when a rickshaw crashes into it.
  • Male Gaze: Especially notable in a scene where several women descend from an airplane while wearing short skirts... from below.
    Kevin: (sleazily) We'll hire the creepiest cinematographer we can find. There we go.
  • Men Are the Expendable Gender: Horrifically averted, especially during the third act, in which countless female mooks are summarily dispatched, including one by a shotgun blast to the face.
  • Mental Affair: Instead of ordinary sexual intercourse, Tsu prefers to have “brain sex”. In brain sex, the participants wear mind-control helmets and sit on adjacent chairs while thrusting their pelvises and making sex faces.
    Kevin: You know, when I got here today, I didn't expect to see the most vomit-inducing thing ever committed to film!
  • Mobstacle Course: The foot chase through Manila is complicated by thousands of bystanders, many of whom seem unaware that a movie is being made. According to Word of God, film productions were so common no one paid much attention to them anymore.
    Mike Nelson: If there's one thing I've learned about the Philippines from watching this movie, it's that all of the people are out standing in the street all of the time.
  • Neck Snap: A rather awkward example occurs when Linda wrings the neck of one of the mookettes. Instead of performing a quick, elegant snap, she twists the woman's head back and forth like a steering wheel.
  • No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Dine: Harber arrives just as Tsu and Gregorius are sitting down to bowls of flaming soup, where she calmly informs him Your Days Are Numbered.
    Tsu: Sit down, Mr. Harber.
    Kevin: (as Tsu) Would you like soup or salad before I fillet your genitals and store them in plastic bags?
  • Overly Narrow Superlative: The plot hinges on the kidnapping of the world's top jai alai player. Our hero can't even remember his name, calling him "what's-his-name, the jai alai player".
  • Pinball Protagonist: Strangely, although Harber is portrayed as a man of action, he actually contributes little to achieving his goal. He wanders around, benefits from dumb luck, gets captured, and profits from a completely fortuitous heel-face turn by one of the villain's henchwomen. Arguably the real protagonist is not Harber at all, but Linda, the redheaded henchwoman.
  • Porn Stache: Gregorious, the villain's second in command, rocks one.
  • Purple Prose:
    Tsu: It might be amusing to have you two exchange parts. You, my dear, with your lovely face and figure. He, with his brain and sex.
    Mike Nelson: Are they talking about Carl Sagan?
  • Redhead In Green: Linda's outfits are always some shade of green.
  • Regional Riff: Tsu is introduced with a gong, just in case we forgot that she was a Dragon Lady archetype.
  • R-Rated Opening: The film starts with a kidnapping montage intercut with shots of women swimming topless.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Gregorious cops out when there's heat all about.
  • The '70s: Rose-tinted shades, flared trousers, feathered hair and huge afros? You bet your sweet ass!
  • She-Fu: Of the most awkward sort. The film is chock-full of stylized lady combat, complete with voguing, falling down and jazz hands.
    Bill: Fight choreography by adorable newborn kittens.
  • Shoddy Knockoff Product: Of Wonder Woman, obviously, although there is no resemblance beyond the title.
  • Shoot Out the Lock: Indicated entirely by machine-gun sound effects and the appearance of black “powder marks” on the door.
    Bill: Wow, she paintballed the door open.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog / Hoist by His Own Petard: The film ends with Harber being surrounded by a bunch of vengeful action floozies, one of whom is his Love Interest, who aims his own hand-cannon at him. Presumably he will be killed imminently, but judging by his lustful smile, he apparently thinks it's orgy time.
    Tsu: (voiceover) Goodbye, Mr. Harber. Like all great minds, we cannot avoid our destiny.
    (Screen fades to black.)
    Kevin: Yes, this truly was a tale of great minds.
  • Shout-Out: Mike comments on the "fad" of skyjackings. This is a reference to the spate of copycat crimes that followed the infamous D.B. Cooper skyjacking/ransom.
  • Smart People Play Chess: Spectacularly averted in the final scene, as Mike and a blonde bimbo play chess - though she's more devoted to stroking pear stems and chess pieces than actually playing.
  • Soft Glass: During the hotel room fight, Harber falls shirtless through a glass coffee table, but doesn't suffer so much as a scratch.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: For whatever reason, the soundtrack starts playing a circus calliope in some scenes.
  • The Spock: Tsu seems to be written this way, but not acted this way. She has several lines of dialogue in which she speaks of overcoming the emotions, but the actress plays the character as cheerful and amused.
  • Staircase Tumble: See Informed Ability.
  • Sword Cane: Gregorius has got one, in keeping with his role as a sneaky fop.
  • Title Theme Tune: Sung by Annette Thomas.
  • Token Minority: One of the Wonder Women is African American.
  • Traitor Shot: During the meeting between Tsu and Mr. Paulson, the camera focuses on Gregorious's shifty eyes.
  • Tranquillizer Dart: This is how the villain obtains living bodies to use for her sinister transplants.
  • Treacherous Advisor: It seems like Gregorious's exit plan is prepared well in advance.
  • Unnecessary Roughness: During the big chase, the cars frequently swerve out of their way in order to hit avoidable obstacles.
  • Wacky Racing: The film includes several chase scenes involving weird jalopies, chickens on sticks, rickshaws, and collisions with hapless pedestrians.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Several prominent characters are abandoned without any resolution. The viewer never sees what becomes of Lapu-Lapu or Gregorious. Linda also vanishes during the climax, leaving the impression that she was killed off by simply being picked up and carried a short distance.
  • Wicked Cultured: Tsu's dialogue is mostly made up of sinister epigrams.
    Tsu: (across a thirty-foot dinner table) My chef's survival depends on her ability to satisfy my tastes.
    Mike Nelson: (as Gregorious) Yeah, I didn't get a word of that, but I'm sure it was kinda evil.
  • Would Hit a Girl
    Mike Nelson: (singing) He's our hero! He's our hero! Blasting women with a shotgun to the face!
  • You Have Failed Me: Tsu gives an order for her minion Linda to be taken away and executed for failing to kill Harber. It serves the plot, giving Linda a motive and opportunity to effect a Heel–Face Turn.