Cutie Honey is a live-action film adaptation of the Cutey Honey anime and manga released in 2004 by Gainax and was directed by Hideaki Anno of Neon Genesis Evangelion fame. It tells an alternate story of the title character, Honey Kisaragi and her battle against Panther Claw. It was the first among three projects to reintroduce Cutie Honey to fans old and new to the twenty-first century being continued by the OVA Re: Cutie Honey and Cutie Honey a Go Go!.
Honey Kisaragi was once the regular human daughter of Dr. Kisaragi until she was caught in an accident where her human body died. Her father then created an android body for her mind to inhabit and even included the AI System which allows Honey to assume any identity she wanted. However Dr. Kisaragi is killed by the organization Panther Claw who want to use the AI System for their own gain. Left in the care of Dr. Kisaragi's colleague Ryo Utsugi, Honey then begins her battle against them as the warrior Cutie Honey. Under the cover of an office worker, she fights against any attack by Panther Claw encountering the serious and strict police detective, Natsuko Aki who views Honey as a public menace. She also encounters the mysterious reporter Seiji Hayami who knows about Honey's past and her powers. Over the course of the movie, Honey fights against Panther Claw's four best fighters while gaining the trust of Natsuko and the attention of Panther Claw's leader Sister Jill.
During a bath, Honey gets word that her 'uncle' had came onto something but has been abducted and goes out to fight Panther Claw. With not enough energy, she is forced to cover herself in a trash bag and take snacks in order to transform into Cutie Honey. Dr. Utsugi's captors are held off by the police at the Tokyo Bay Aqualine lead by Squad Chief Natsuko Aki. As Aki is attacked by Gold Claw, she is saved by Cutie Honey who disguised herself as a cop to get close but Natsuko is not happy about being interrupted. Honey manages to rescue Dr. Utsugi and defeat Gold Claw but she is then arrested by Natsuko for interfering in police work. A reporter named Seiji Hayami claims that Natsuko is arresting her on false charges before he is cuffed as well. Honey however escaped to get to her job at the office, she is reprimanded by her coworkers for being late.
Natsuko in turn is reprimanded by her superiors for the damage at the aqualine and failing to capture the Panther Claw goons while also telling her reports of disappearing girls. Dr. Utsugi was kidnapped again by Panther Claw as Natsuko goes to talk to him knowing a connection between Honey and Panther Claw. Honey meanwhile is disguised as Aki trying to find clues until she meets Seiji again who gives Honey information that the Panther Claw members use some type of nanomachines similar to the ones Dr. Utsugi was researching. Aki interrupts and Seiji and Honey refer to her as Nat-chan much to her chagrin.
The Big Four of Panther Claw then meet their leader Sister Jill who had just awoken and seeks immortality through nanotech and by the blood of the kidnapped young girls. At Honey's workplace, Natsuko follows her until they are interrupted by Honey's boss Rinko Terada. However, this was revealed to be a disguise for Cobalt Claw who came to kill Honey and claim the I-System. As Cobalt strangles them both, Honey uses her Honey Flash to give off heat that burns Cobalt to ashes while Cobalt is mentioning something about killing her father. Honey is passed out having exhausted her energy so Natsuko takes her to her apartment.
Waking up, Honey tells Natsuko about her past where her father and Dr. Utsugi gave Honey a new body outfitted with the I-System that used nano machines to bring her back to life after an accident but it changed her memories. Honey then demonstrates its powers by having Natsuko's dead plants grow back to life but Natsuko kicked Honey out for messing with her space. As Honey walks out alone, Natsuko begins to have second thoughts about Honey. Natsuko is later reassigned to a traffic cop as her superiors have been blaming her for things that went wrong. Nat-chan then meets up with Honey and Seiji and they have some karaoke time and wake up in the morning with invitations from Panther Claw to the Jill Tower. Using this as a chance to fight Panther Claw and rescue Dr. Utsugi, they accept with Honey providing costumes.
When Gold Claw questions Sister Jill on her motivations, she is killed by Jill for her failure to capture Dr. Utsugi earlier and has the Jill Tower drill to the surface. The three go in and find Jill's Butler who explains that Dr. Utsugi had his memories stolen but still recalls his affections towards Honey. Going up the tower, Honey encounters Scarlet Claw who fires beams at her and her companions. Honey manages to use her sword to deflect a beam back at Scarlet Claw which badly wounds her. Scarlet Claw attempts to get help from Black Claw, but she is finished off instead. Black Claw then sings a song to hold everyone back before Seiji in the lower levels of the tower releases some special nano-machines that cause the captured girls to be freed. As Honey is thrown around, Honey manages to throw her Honey Boomerang to Black Claw's face which kills him/her. In order to free Dr. Utsugi, Natsuko had taken his place. Honey is then confronted by Sister Jill who holds Nat-chan hostage and demands Honey give herself up and have Jill assimilate her and her nanotech. Honey concedes but during the process, Natsuko shoots as Honey's choker which causes a Honey Flash that causes Jill to become a seed that Butler takes. With Jill gone, Jill Tower collapses. Honey, Natsuko, and Seiji then open up their own detective agency in the aftermath.
The film's plot and Eriko Sato's role of Honey was well received by critics, but was criticized for its use of 'unpolished' CGI. Box office sales also went down after a few weeks of its release and the production company for the movie Towani went bankrupt as a result. It was the second Cutie Honey media to be released in the US after New Cutie Honey. It became very popular in Thailand, gaining a strong fan base.