Color, 1993, 88m.
Directed by Joe D'Amato
Starring Georgia Emerald, Gloria Chen, Leo Gamboa, Marc Gosalvez, Li Yu
One 7 Movies (US R0 TSC) / WS (1.66:1)

Did you know The Kamasutra isn't just an ancient Sanskrit text about human sexuality? Apparently it's also the name of a cult of sex-mad gurus who hang out in reportedly haunted palaces and lure in unsuspecting foreign women to their lusty doom. At least that's those are the facts according to Chinese Kamasutra, a nutty softcore offering from late sleaze god Joe D'Amato. As his fans already know, D'Amato was something of a jack of all trades whose directorial offerings veered from gory potboilers to glossy porn. He also studded his filmography with a number of softcore titles, including a spate of often agonizingly boring English-language films from his Filmirage company. One of his last soft titles before jumping into fulltime porn, Chinese Kamasutra is a weird one indeed as it finds Joe aping the pacing and style of Walerian Borowczyk, with wildly mixed results.

When she takes a job as head librarian at a library in China, Joan Parker (the stunningly beautiful Emerald in her only film role) comes across a copy of the titular book. One of her coworkers keeps hitting on her, but Joan would rather spend time wandering around her own head via potent sexual fantasies. These erotic reveries seem to be coming to life when she notices a nearby building where someone keeps watching her from an upper story window, and when she goes inside, she discovers an ancient, secret society devoted to lots of bumping, grinding, moaning, and group sex on altars.

That's really the entire story here, and much of the running time is devoted to Joan and her costars rolling around in sheer fabric or less with occasional injections of Borowczyk-style shots of female nether regions being probed and prodded. Unfortunately D'Amato doesn't have anything close to Walerian's eye for detail or atmosphere, but he gives it a good shot here and comes up with something at least more entertaining and aesthetically fetching than much of his late '80s output. You could certainly do worse on a slow night, and had this been made a little earlier, it would have been ideal cable fare.

Chinese Kamasutra makes its North American home video debut courtesy of One 7 Movies, a company distributed by CAV that sure looks an awful lot like Mya Communications (both in package design and wildly inflated retail prices). Like Mya, their modest output is all over the map, and this one lands on the less impressive side of the scales. The non-anamoprhic transfer looks like a PAL VHS copy dumped over with 1.66:1 hard mattes added, while the hissy English soundtrack fits the image all too well. The somewhat cleaner Italian audio track is included as well, but without subtitle options. Voices are dubbed in either version, so neither one's really more authentic than the other. The only extra is a deleted epilogue (with burned-in timecode) that probably should have been left in the final feature.