Directors: Chiang/Philip T. Drexler Jr.
Vinegar Syndrome

Vinegar Syndrome’s latest “Drive In Collection” entry is a pair of decidedly non-PC “oriental” porn films starring the usual suspects.

Wounded and raped by three hunters (including Jamie Gillis and Bobby Astyr), prostitute Yin (Bree Anthony, SATAN WAS A LADY) is nursed back to health and trained to become one of the VIXENS OF KUNG-FU by their leader (C.J. Laing, THE AFFAIRS OF JANICE). The training – which involves plenty of lesbian sex with fellow vixens Juliet Graham (EMANUELLE AROUND THE WORLD) and Arlana Blue (THE ALTAR OF LUST) – allows Yin to cast off her past (illustrated by an encounter with Roger Caine [MARTIN] in a bare room with only a mattress) and take control of her sexuality. She gets a practical lesson when the quartet of vixens beat monk Yang (Tony Richards, THE DOUBLE EXPOSURE OF HOLLY) and sexually assault him. Finding Yang to be not a particularly formidable lover, they dump him in the woods to be fed to the wolves; however, Yang escapes and approaches kung fu expert Ha Tien Sau (Peonies Jung, BLOWDRY) – who works part-time at the “House of Wong” restaurant – to teach him the “Golden Dragon Raising Head” sexual technique. Given the character names of Yin and Yang, the plot is setting these two “victims” up for some sort of confrontation; but will it be a fight to the death or the ultimate lay?

With its direction credited to Chiang (word on the net is that it was actually directed by DRACULA EXOTICA producer Bill Milling), audiences will find likely find VIXENS OF KUNG FU more of a curio than a classic of the era. Despite the notion that seventies porn had more plot and character, it still seems ridiculous to argue that a porn film from that era isn’t good because of its lack of story. VIXENS has somewhat of a story, enough to string scenes together at least; however, it’s just all so listless. The film opens with a rape scene (though explicit, it does fortunately focus more on the depraved expressions and mannerisms of the attackers) after which more than half-hour of sometimes awkward lesbian sex scenes and meditation passes before the other major characters are introduced and we see some fighting. Said fighting is lame but entertaining since it consists of the actors assuming various fight poses while the editor goes crazy with the flash cuts, skipped frames, and sound effects. Not only does the film exist in this strange world where white characters have Chinese names (with Chinatown used to illustrate the world outside of the bulk of the film’s woodland setting), but the rich have a weapon called the “gun of anesthesia” that they use to stun victims (for more easier molestation); yet these embellishments seem unnecessary for the story (which turns out not to be a rape-revenge story since Gillis and Astyr never show up again after the opening reel). The stilted line delivery seems to be in homage to the chop sockys, as are the crash zooms and gong sound effects. The soundtrack is an odd combination of often inappropriate library music pulls, banjo music, some “oriental” vocals that may be parody, as well as what sounds like part of Mike Oldfield’s “Tubular Bells”.

ORIENTAL BLUE sports a few common cast members (Jong, Gillis, Astyr, Laing, Richards, and Anthony) with VIXENS; and it’s a better yet still problematic film. Jong stayed clothed for VIXENS but she lets it all hang out here as white slaver Madame Blue (Peonies Jong again) – a cross between Fu Manchu and his nymphomaniac daughter – who lives in a subterranean lair beneath a Chinese restaurant. When World Bordello Association contractor Max (Bobby Astyr, BARBARA BROADCAST) approaches Madame Blue with a large order for his global clients, she calls in her best procurers – randy pimp Rocky (Ashley Moore, DOMINATION BLUE), decadent Stefan (Steven Lark, STORY OF JOANNA), and icy bastard Brock (Jamie Gillis, THE OPENING OF MISTY BEETHOVEN) – to supply her women (including THE STORY OF JOANNA’s Terri Hall as a French student) – off the street to be trained by her slaves Conrad (Alan Marlow, THE PRIVATE AFTERNOONS OF PAMELA MANN) and Angel (C.J. Laing, MARASCHINO CHERRY). Things go swimmingly until Brock decides he’d rather not part with his off-the-turnip-truck Antea (Bree Anthony, THE TAKING OF CHRISTINA). Madame Blue is not only vexed by Brock’s defiance but also by his apparent affection for Antea when all of her efforts to possess him have failed.

Once again it seems strange to judge a porn film on its lack of plot, but ORIENTAL BLUE actually has one that could have been potentially interesting – along the lines of THE IMAGE or THE STORY OF JOANNA – what with slave Antea either a love interest or a pawn in the mind games of Brock and Madame Blue (she wants Antea as a means of getting Brock, and it is uncertain whether he defies Madame Blue because he’s in love with Antea or if he’s using her as a means of illustrating the hold he has over Madame Blue). Once again, however, Gillis’ and Anthony’s major characters – and the plot’s conflict – do not show up until almost half-way through the short running time as the film proceeds linearly through the seduction and sex scenes featuring the other procurers (along with training sessions supervised by Madame Blue). As such, it is at just over the half-way point that the film picks up interest; however, this time around, the sex scenes preceding it are more visually interesting than those of VIXENS. The relatively tame S&M sequence featuring Hall and Lark looks like outtakes from THE STORY OF JOANNA in which Lark was Hall’s dance partner. ORIENTAL BLUE’s soundtrack is another odd tapestry of unauthorized soundtrack (Lalo Schifrin cues from ENTER THE DRAGON) and pop cues (including jaunty Manhattan Transfer songs), the most surprising (or shocking) of which is the reasonably effective use of Linda Ronstadt’s recording of “You’re No Good” during the threesome between Brock, Antea, and Antonio (played by VIXENS’ Tony Richards).

Vinegar’s progressive, anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) of VIXENS OF KUNG-FU looks gorgeous for the most part. The range of natural colors in the opening sequence leap out at the viewer from the first shot onwards is frequently impressive. The reel change marks are entirely visible below the upper matte suggesting that 1.85:1 is indeed the aspect ratio. There is very little damage other than some jitters at scene and reel changes, although scratches do show up during the frame skipping fight scenes which themselves look like missing/damaged frames (although I’m guessing that the scratches present during these bits may have been accidentally inflicted during the cutting of these shots rather than being the result of poor preservation). The Dolby Digital 2.0 mono audio is in fine condition. ORIENTAL BLUE looks a bit rougher at times with occasional scratches and speckling; however, the bulk of the presentation is in very good condition revealing a degree of style almost completely lacking from its co-feature. Both films are divided into reels rather than chapters. (Eric Cotenas)