Written by: Pieter Boven on November 25th, 2005
Theatrical Release Date: France, 1984
Director: Just Jaeckin
Writer: Just Jaeckin
Cast: Tawny Kitaen, Brent Huff, Zabou, Bernadette Lafont, Jean Rougerie
DVD released: September 22nd, 2005
Running time: 100m20s
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Rating: Accord Parental
Sound: French Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo
DVD Label: Opening
Region Coding: Region 0 PAL (France)
Retail Price: 10-20 EUR
EAN: 3530941022344 (Double pack with Tendres Cousines)
The Film :
Gwendoline and her companion Beth arrive in China investigating her father’s disappearance in the desert of Yik-Yak. They immediately run into trouble but are unintentionally saved by the handsome sailor Willard. Willard, merely protecting his own interests, wants nothing more to do with Gwendoline and tries to get rid of her. However, the girls manage to forcefully persuade him into joining them on their quest. When Gwendoline learns of her father’s death, she decides to continue his work and find the butterfly he was looking for. They not only find the insect but also a civilisation of women run by a blood thirsty queen…
The film is presented in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio and is anamorphically enhanced. The transfer is virtually flawless with no damage or blemishes except some minor white speckles and one short scene with a faint vertical white line. Colours look strong and vivid. Sharpness and contrast are also very good.
The only option is the original French audio track in dolby digital 2.0 stereo. Dialogue is easy to understand and there is no background hiss or other annoyances. Forced player generated French subtitles are provided for a few scenes in Chinese.
There is simple but nice looking animated menu with a scene selection consisting of 12 chapters. There are no extras, not even a trailer. However the movie is sold together with the movie Tendres Cousines (1980) directed by David Hamilton. Both come in their own slimcase and are held together by a cardboard sleeve. The coverart is rather plain and unspectacular.
Tendres Cousines features an anamorphic 1.66:1 widescreen transfer, French dolby digital 2.0 mono audio, runs for 88m20s and has no extras unlike the out of print German DVD by Marketing Film.
This is an amazing adventure movie by Just Jaeckin, known mostly for his soft erotic movies like Emmanuelle and Histoire d’O. It has all the common ingredients but adds a couple more such as gore and ample nudity. The film has an attractive cast featuring the very lovely Tawny Kitaen and the ultra-cool Brent Huff who are both perfect for their role. The movie is well shot, has a memorable soundtrack, great scenery and the art design in the finale is absolutely fantastic. It takes a moment to get into, especially if you don’t know what to expect, as it’s often over the top and has some lowbrow humour. However, the movie obviously does not take itself seriously and finds a good balance blending different genres to create a more adult version of Indiana Jones. And although rather long, the film moves at a good pace and doesn’t become boring.
Gwendoline gets lousy reviews on the internet claiming it’s a very bad movie with no redeeming qualities. I’m sorry but these reviewers obviously have never seen a real bad movie or are allergic to anything that is not from Hollywood. Of course, readers from this site are not affected by these deficiencies and will undoubtedly enjoy this movie very much.
The quality of the DVD is fine although the absence of extras is disappointing. As it’s being sold as a double pack with Tendres Cousines you get a good value for money. Unfortunately it’s a kiosk release so you’ll probably have trouble finding it in online stores. Also the absence of English language audio options probably presents a major obstacle for many people. However Nucleus Films have announced an uncut UK release featuring an English dub and subtitles. Considering two of the lead actors are American I’m interested in seeing how the English dub turns out. Finally, a note about the Italian DVD (also English unfriendly) which was my first acquaintance with this movie over a year ago. Although the quality is comparable, I do not recommend it for French viewers since it has forced Italian subtitles on the French audio and hence no French translations for the Chinese scenes.