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DVD Review: Chinese Kamasutra

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In the world of big-budgeted Hollywood blockbusters, Spielbergs and Camerons are a dime a dozen. When it comes to low-budget Italian wonders, though, there was only one Joe D’Amato. And, while a number of people that are familiar with the late Italian filmmaker consider this to be a good thing, there will always be a large base of fans the world over to disagree.

Born Aristide Massaccesi, D’Amato was a true b-movie auteur — often working as any combination of writer, director, producer, cinematographer and/or editor in various genres. Over the course of his impressive career of 200+ films, D’Amato used many aliases — in fact, he is reported to have used well over forty different pseudonyms as he churned out some memorable (and often mind-numbing) cinematic class-icks such as Endgame, Ator: The Fighting Eagle, Troll 2, Stage Fright, Death Smiles On A Murderer, and Beyond The Darkness.

In the early ‘90s, however, the once-somewhat-lucrative well that was known as the Italian film industry had started to dry up — and all of the spaghetti westerns, horror flicks, god-awful fantasy, and often-wacky giallos D’Amato and many other Italian filmmakers had made a living off of creating over the years desiccated as a result. Nevertheless, good ol’ Joe D’Amato kept himself busy by making direct-to-video hardcore movies; indeed, a good half of his directorial line of business was devoted to such low-budgeted sleazy fare! Occasionally, D’Amato would also crank out a decidedly softcore venture like 1993’s Chinese Kamasutra.

Made under his Butterfly Motion Pictures banner, Chinese Kamasutra would be best described as a “really bad direct-to-video softcore flick.” The plot (or lack thereof, as the case were) tells of an occidental librarian named Joan (Giorgia Emerald, in her one and only movie anywhere ever, according to the IMDb) working at a library in a small town somewhere in the Chinese province. Surprisingly, the place is pretty busy. Well, I guess it is, since there’s always some old guy (an employee) bringing books back to our heroine to file. There are even a number of horny patrons who get down and dirty with each other in full view of Joan as she looks on in shock.

Joan is also shocked when she discovers a book entitled “Chinese Kamasutra,” and finds herself unable to put the book down. Soon, Joan discovers she’s being lured in by some ghostly apparition of a deceased lover who she had apparently known in a previous life — or some such nonsense: the film is pretty befuddling when it comes to an actual story, and winds up as being nothing more than a series of boringly unerotic sex scenes tied together by some half-assed fairy-tale. And then there’s the acting. If you were to compare the performances of our lead and all of her supporting players with the shoddily-structured softcore script, Chinese Kamasutra’s narrative would seem like award-worthy material.

Chinese Kamasutra makes its home video debut in the US courtesy the cinemasochists at One 7 Movies. The film is presented in a 1.66:1 letterboxed widescreen ratio, which is rather murky, about as soft as the movie’s sex scenes, somewhat lifeless (again: like the movie’s sex scenes), and looks as though it could have been culled from a video source (although I imagine the movie was probably shot on video to begin with). Accompanying the film are two Dolby Stereo soundtracks: English and Italian. The English-dubbed track is atrocious (as you’d expect it to be) but both language options come through clear enough that you can hear all of the dialogue, funky music, and bad sound effects — before wishing that you couldn’t hear them, that is. There are no subtitle options for this release.

Special Features-wise, One 7 Movies’ issue of Chinese Kamasutra only gives us a short (less-than-a-minute long) Deleted Scene (which is from the ending of the film, by the looks of it). The excised shot is presented Full Frame with a non-removable video time code attached.

Honestly, unless you’re a real hardcore (pun intended) fan of D’Amato, you’d do best to skip this one — unless you’re looking to end a relationship with someone, that is, in which case your slow boat to China has come in.

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About Luigi Bastardo

Luigi Bastardo is the disgruntled alter-ego of a thirtysomething lad from Northern California who has watched so many weird movies since the tender age of 3 that a conventional life is out of the question. He currently lives in Chico, CA with four cats named Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and Margaret. Seriously.