Director: Carlos Tobalina
Vinegar Syndrome

Serena may be the big name here, but Vinegar Syndrome's latest "Peekarama Big 2 Unit Show!" offering gives us a double bill showcasing the talents of Asian porn starlets Mai Lin and Jade Wong.

In MAI LIN VS SERENA, director Carlos Tobalina (as himself but taking directing credit as "Troy Benny") is looking for the "hottest girl" to star in his latest motion picture. He has narrowed it down to Mai Li (PRISONER OF PARADISE) and Serena (HONEY THROAT), but he cannot decide which is hotter. The two actresses decide to make a $25,000 bet (the fee for the role) to see who is hotter and head out for a night on the town. During dinner, they turn a restaurant into a swinger's orgy. They go out for drinks and introduce Jade Wong and her girlfriend to straight sex at a gay bar (when Herschel Savage and Mike Horner turn up for "happy hour"). Even when they are thrown in the slammer for public lewdness, they bet they can turn on guards Billy Dee (SADIE) and Dan T. Mann (LITTLE OFTEN ANNIE). The results are evenly matched and it may take a twenty-man orgy in a bathtub to determine the winner of MAI LIN VS SERENA.

Reportedly thrown together over a weekend in San Francisco, MAI LIN VS SERENA is not particularly well thought out or well-made, but it is never boring. Serena and Mai Lin were not known for their acting ability, but they are both engaging enough to headline a series of multi-partner sex scenes that will inevitably end in a draw (there really isn't any criteria for judging here apart from personal preference and even I can't decide which one is hotter). The pink bathtub orgy is meant to be the apex of the film, but it's just incredibly sticky. Besides Lin and Wong, the disc's co-feature also takes MAI LIN VS SERENA orgy performers Jon Martin (HOT LUNCH) and Jesse Adams (SEKA'S FANTASIES) along to ORIENTAL HAWAII.

Bob Walker (John Leslie, BABY ROSEMARY) and his wife Mildred (Jesie St. James, BLONDE FIRE) can no longer support their grown "kids" Burt (Jon Martin, HOT LUNCH), Ron (Jesse Adams, SEKA'S FANTASIES), Gayle (Rhonda Jo Petty, THE BEST LITTLE CATHOUSE IN LAS VEGAS), and Peggy (Danielle, EXPOSE ME NOW) on his navy pension. Ron suggests the siblings double up in their bedrooms so that they can find two renters (hopefully young and female). They strike gold with a pair of University of Hawaii students Leilani (Mai Lin, INTERLUDE OF LUST) and Ming (Jade Wong, PURELY PHYSICAL) who prove all-around agreeable (playing "Dildo" with the sisters and giving the brothers an alternative to dirty magazines in bed at night). Ming also helpfully gives Bob some herbal supplements to help him sleep, and he dreams of an incestuous orgy (Ming and Lelani included, since their rent checks make them family). He finds the dream disturbing but is surprised by his wife's reaction when he tells her about it.

Going by the Carlos Tobalina films I've seen thus far, it appears that performances or at least the personalities of the onscreen talent distinguish the good ones from the bad ones; and ORIENTAL HAWAII is the best of the ones I've seen so far. If Lin and Wong are rather stiff as actresses, easygoing Leslie carries the film with a handful of scenes while neither he nor anyone else stays clothed for long. There's plenty of Hawaii stock footage – some of it shown in multiple split-screen opticals that probably cost more than the rest of the film – but there does appear to have been some location shooting with Martin and Adams wandering around the University of Hawaii campus and the beach. The incest angle is unlikely to disturb since no one buys the idea that any of them are related (much less that hottie Jesie St. James is a dowdy homemaker named "Mildred"), and the film does not suggest that it is anything beyond a dream (rather than something that might redefine the definition of family like the TABOO series).

Both transfers on Vinegar Syndrome's dual-layer disc derive from 2K scans of the original 35mm camera negatives and both are colorful and almost spotless apart from some vertical scratches that likely occurred in camera. The opticals on ORIENTAL HAWAII are also grainier, of course, and the 1.78:1 framing seems severe sometimes on MAI LIN VS SERENA but nothing of interest is cropped away (ORIENTAL HAWAII seems more carefully composed and looks great at in widescreen). The Dolby Digital 1.0 tracks are fairly clean but not totally free of hiss (which may have more to do with the original recordings and sound editing than the state of preservation). The only extras are theatrical trailers for both features (4:37 and 4:53, respectively). (Eric Cotenas)