Italy | 1993
Directed by Joe D'Amato
Georgia Emerald
Gloria Chen
Leo Gamboa
| 88 Minutes | Not Rated
Format: DVD(R0 - NTSC)
One-7 Movies
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Review by
Troy Howarth

While studying native folklore on her trip to China, American Joan Parker (Georgia Emerald) becomes fascinated by the Kamasutra. Her obsession leads her on a road to self-discovery, as her true sexual identity is revealed...
    Aristide Massaccessi wore a lot of hats during his 30-plus years in the Italian film industry. He achieved his biggest success early on as a cinematographer, shooting many spaghetti westerns and the occasional genre title, such as What Have You Done to Solange? (1971). He eventually adopted the nom de plum "Joe D'Amato" and started directing. His early work as a director showed some promise, but he eventually descended into erotica and hardcore porn. While Death Smiles at a Murderer (1973) and Buio Omega (AKA Beyond the Darkness, 1979) are well regarded among horror buffs, he was far more active in the erotica scene, directing many of the Laura Gemser "Emanuelle" films and so forth. His work as a director of erotica is compromised by a certain bluntness there's no room for romance, and genuinely erotic moments are few and far between; if anything, his work is closer to the more 'down and dirty' approach of contemporary porn filmmakers, most of whom can't be bothered with plot or buildup, preferring instead to just 'get on with it'.
    Chinese Kamasutra isn't one of D'Amato's hardcore sex films, but it pushes the envelope pretty far for softcore. There are still plenty of inserts of female masturbation and the like, but there's nary an erection or penetration to be seen. There's sex aplenty, but it tends to feel a bit mechanical, as if the actors are simply going through the motions without being encouraged to really abandon themselves in the action. Worse still, when the film isn't focusing on sex, it's deadly dull. The story itself is absurdly thin, and there's no real attempt at characterization. The locations are frequently eye catching, but the attempts at capturing an 'exotic' flavor fall flat.
    Matters aren't helped any by some of the worst English dubbing this side of Japanese giant monster movies. If the film is worth watching at all, it's simply to ogle over leading lady Georgia Emerald. The name is almost certainly a pseudonym (the remainder of the credits are chock full of absurd pseudonyms, with D'Amato being billed as "Chang Lee Sun"), and if the IMDb is to be believed, this was her only stint in front of the camera. Emerald isn't really much of an actress, but she brings class and grace to her ill-defined character and physically, she's simply stunning to behold. She spends much of the film in varying degrees of undress, and this in itself is almost enough to get one to overlook the excessive padding and rambling, barely coherent narrative. Almost.

Chinese Kamasutra is another entry in the One-7 Movies line. The 1.66 image is not enhanced for anamorphic sets, and it appears to have been mastered from a VHS source. Detail is fuzzy at best, colors seem a little muted, and edge enhancement is evident throughout. It's watchable, but not much more. Audio options include the Italian and English tracks, though no subtitles are provided for the former. The English track is acceptable, with inevitable limitations. Dialogue has a canned, tinny sound to it, and the sleazy synth soundtrack is sometimes a bit muffled. Extras are limited to a deleted scene. 1/31/11