Color, 1994, 93m.
Directed by "Robert Yip" (Joe D'Amato)
Starring Nongkok Kok, Lora Luna, Lim Yao, Marc Gosálvez, Chin Yong
Mya (US R0 NTSC)
The same year he shot the wacko Chinese Kamasutra in the Philippines, prolific director Joe D'Amato stuck around to film a far more crafty commercial enterprise for release the following year: China and Sex. Apparently noticing the significant international attention given to the very raunchy 1991 Category III Hong Kong hit Sex and Zen and its busty star, Amy Yip, he decided to retain his most Asian pseudonym, "Robert Yip" (or "Chang Lee Sun" on some prints) for a blatant cash-in using actors hiding out under Hong Kong-style names. The end result is a nearly plotless collage of softcore sex scenes featuring plentiful frontal nudity (way more than your average HK outing from the period) and kinky use of dining utensils.
The actual story is a tissue-thin concoction about a sexy Chinese dancer/courtesan named Tama, who works at an exotic tea house run by Madame Shu, where we first see patrons eating appetizers with chopsticks delicately applied to women's breasts and nether regions. (Apparently the oysters and turtle soup go over really well there.) Then one day a young male nobleman client, Pen Tzin, shows up and, while being serviced by one of the establishment's frumpier employees ("What are you loafing at? Suck!"), falls for Tama (who turned down his initial offer) when he sees her with another john through a sheer curtain. That night he's haunted by an erotic dream involving Tama, but the next day she refuses him again at the tea house. Pen Tzin rounds up a treasure chest and goes to increasingly extreme measures to get Tama into his bed, but nothing works; instead she only offers to relieve his erotic pain if he undergoes "the test of desire." That basically means wandering in the woods, getting blindfolded and tied to a bed, and sexually taunted by Tama until he starts to go mad while she says things like "Listen to my hand while it slides on the sea of your desire. My fingers caressing the swamp of your oblivion and sink in the well of voluptuousness."
This being a D'Amato film, there's a lot of softcore moaning and sighing, copious female nudity, and a hilariously sick, bloody twist ending that pretty much kills off any randiness for male viewers in the audience. The film does its best to mimic the look of Hong Kong erotic and horror films of the period, complete with lots of flowing transparent gowns, billowing curtains, and dappled sunlight, and as far as copycats go, it gets pretty darn close at times. It's certainly an odd duck in the director's filmography and marks a farewell of sorts to his career in both soft erotica and horror, since he jumped from this into a lengthy run of hardcore variations on famous historical and fictional characters until his death in 1999. It was also the last film for his company Filmirage, which had become something of a trash VHS institution with titles like 11 Days 11 Nights, Troll 2, Witchery, and by far their best film, Stage Fright.
Though released on tape in Italy, this film never really broke through internationally as intended. Mya's DVD marks the first release friendly to English-speaking audiences, as far as this reviewer is aware; if anyone has further details about the release history of this one, please share. The full frame transfer is probably taken from the same source, since this was apparently shot on film but edited on videotape (complete with video generated credits). This screams one-inch master all the way, but it's perfectly watchable in a dated and nostalgic sort of way. The mono Italian audio sounds okay (and yes, really, this is a film populated entirely with Asian actors dubbed in Italian), and the flowery English subtitles are better than usual. The sole extra is a dialogue-free trailer complete with some abrasive music thankfully not found in the feature itself.
Reviewed on January 2, 2012