Written by: Michael Den Boer on April 24th, 2014
Theatrical Release Dates: USA, 1985
Director: Jim Wynorski
Writer: Jim Wynorski
Cast: Melanie Vincz, Raven De La Croix, Angela Aames, Paul Coufos, Robert Tessier, Angus Scrimm, Blackie Dammett, Linda Shayne, Kenneth Tobey, Tom Rettig, Angelique Pettyjohn
DVD Release Date: April 22nd, 2014
Approximate Running Time: 83 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo English
DVD Release: Polyscope Media Group
Region Encoding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $14.95
Synopsis: A trio of gorgeous women are recruited to infiltrate the sinister Dr. Sin Do’s fortress which is located on seclude island.
The Lost Empire was written and directed by Jim Wynorski, who’s other notable films include, Chopping Mall and Not of This Earth. Key collaborators on The Lost Island include cinematographer Jacques Haitkin (Galaxy of Terror, A Nightmare on Elm Street), Editor Larry Bock (The Lady in Red, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure) and composer Alan Howarth (Big Trouble in Little China, Retribution).
Content wise The Lost Empire is equal parts 1930s adventure serials and Russ Meyers. The plot is simple and to the point. A tough as nails female cop accepts a mission to take down an evil mastermind whose henchmen are also responsible for her brother’s death. The narrative moves a long briskly from moment to the next. Not a single moment is wasted and there is never a dull moment along the way.
From a visual stand point director Jim Wynorski never misses a moment to fully exploit this film’s greatest assets, its cast of voluptuous beauties. Other areas of this film that holds up really well include the action sequences, most notable a fight scene at a women’s prison. And when it comes to humor this film also delivers and then some. The bad guys in this film and their absurd costumes are a hoot to watch.
As mentioned before this film’s bread and butter are its female cast, especially its trio of leads. Melanie Vincz in the role of police woman Angel Wolfe, and her two recruits are superbly portrayed by Raven De La Croix and Angela Aames. All three women have a tremendous amount of charisma and they have pitch perfect chemistry as a trio. Another performance of note is Angus Scrimm (Phantasm) in the role of this film’s diabolical mastermind. Ultimately The Lost Empire is a highly entertaining exploitation film that never strays to far away from its ample assets.
The Lost Empire is present in an anamorphic widescreen that retains the film’s intended 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The source used is far from flawless as there are issues with compression most noticeable during darker moments and edge enhancement varies in degree throughout. And though the image generally looks crisps there are several moments where it is lacking the clarity that is present for the bulk of this presentation. Also there are some very mild instances of print debris. Colors and flesh tones fare well. Overall this is a film that has not been widely available, at least in its original aspect ratio and though the less than stellar quality of source, materials is sure to turn some viewers off. The ability to finally see this film in it intended aspect ratio makes this release worthwhile.
The audio like the transfer leaves room for improvement. Dialog comes through clearly enough to follow. Background noise is minimal and there are no issues with distortion. Range wise this stereo mix is very limited and there were a handful of moments I had to adjust the volume.
Extras for this release include a stills gallery, a option to listen to this films score and an audio commentary with screenwriter / director Jim Wynorski who discusses, the cast, how the film was originally going to be hot in 3-D, shooting in CinemaScope, locations, the film’s score, shooting on a limited budget and various other production related topics. He also mentions that this release was sourced from the original negative and a IP print. Overall The Lost Empire gets a serviceable audio / video presentation from Polyscope Media Group.