Judge Daryl Loomis walks down dark and mysterious paths.
"Look. Your love fever turned on the light of night."
Nobody ever accused producer/director Aristide Massaccesi (Emanuelle in Bangkok) of originality, but whether he was credited as Joe D'Amato, Alexandre Borsky, David Hills, or Joan Russell, he always delivered perversion and violence like few others in the exploitation game. Playing off the success of 1991's Sex and Zen, he assumed the name of Robert Yip (which he used any time he made an Asian-themed film) to helm China and Sex, a weird and terrible journey into the Far East where, apparently, certain prostitutes wield destructive sexual powers.
A Mandarin prince (Marc Gosalvez, Chinese Kamasutra) has visited every brother in the province, but has yet to find a woman who can satisfy is desires. That is, until he enters the establishment that employs Tama (Lora Luna, The Labyrinth of Love), an angel of desire and the most beautiful woman he's ever seen. She can't be bought, though, not with all the money in his royal coffers. Instead, he must supplicate himself in front of her, give up his arrogance, and only then will he have her, but under her terms. Once she finally agrees, she takes him through levels of pleasure and pain, only to find horror at the end of the journey.
The back of the box claims that China and Sex is one of the best latter day efforts from the director. Though I'm mostly acquainted with his '80s work, if that's true, then his other work from the following decade must be absolutely woeful attempts at cinema. His earlier work may not have been a bastion of artistic integrity, but at least the stories made a little bit of sense and carried an air of sexual adventure. This pile of garbage, on the other hand, features some of the dullest examples of softcore erotica that I've witnessed in a long time.
The highlight of the film is the explicit and gruesome finale, which is the only part of it I can support. The dialog, with all the talk of the melding of pleasure and pain, sounds like it was written by Pinhead in a moment of seduction and the plot is basically an exercise in getting to the next sex scene. That's not necessarily new for the director, but there's not much of the flair for the weird and taboo that he displayed in much of his earlier work. If somebody of Massaccei's dubious talents could possibly regress over the years, China and Sex is evidence of it. It's nothing but terrible dialog and sex scenes, but if that's what you're looking for, this film has what you're looking for.
Mya's DVD for China and Sex is a typically mediocre affair from the label. It features a sub-par full frame transfer that looks better than it might have on VHS, but not by a whole lot. There's plenty of damage to the print and any restoration done to it was minimal. The film is fuzzy overall and the colors are decidedly washed out. The two-channel mono sound isn't much to celebrate, but it's better than the image. Dialog is clear enough, but any music or background noise is too diminished to really notice. The only extra is a trailer.
People who actively seek out the films of Joe D'Amato have no reason to skip China and Sex. It isn't any better or worse than most of his work and features some very funny, ultra-pretentious dialog. It's a bad movie, though, even by exploitation standards, and everybody else should probably skip it.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Mya Communication
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