I’m a real sucker for two things: vintage erotica and meat and potatoes crime cinema. So, you combine the two and I’m likely going to take notice. Case in point, China and Silk – a 1984 XXX crime picture involving drug smuggling featuring Harry Reems, Ginger Lynn and Herschel Savage all playing cops, which is pretty much everything that I want.
Opening with a choice prologue set in Cambodia, featuring Reems as a soldier being “saved” by a beautiful Asian woman after being gunned down, China and Silk is quick to get things going in both the XXX and genre categories and manages to stick to both for the entirety of its lean 81 minute runtime. Flash forward some years and Reems is working as a cop, trying to bust a drug smuggling ring run by a different beautiful Asian woman played with villainous zeal by Kristara Barrington. There’s also two undercover cops, played by Savage and Lynn, on the case and they use their undercover angle to get under plenty of covers! For such a lean movie, it can get a little convoluted (especially when you consider that a decent portion of the runtime is also devoted to sex) but it’s always fun and director Steve Scott (Trashy Lady) keeps things focused.
The cast here is having a great time and manage to keep the mystery elements of the picture rolling while also keeping the sex interesting. It’s rare to find adult cinema that also successfully pulls off being genre cinema too (my current favorite being Dixie Ray: Hollywood Star), especially when refraining from getting the likes of Sex Wish dark, but China and Silk pulls it off. It feels a bit like White Slaves of Chinatown gone hardcore and mixed with an 80s cop TV show like Hunter. This could be a good entry point to adult film for those who have yet to take the plunge too. The sex is there, of course, but it isn’t as clinical or as ubiquitous as with other titles and the narrative is definitely the focus. Which may or may not be what you’re looking for, but if the idea of watching Harry Reems and Ginger Lynn play cops and robbers for 81 minutes sounds like fun, you’ve come to the right place.
Vinegar Syndrome have brought China and Silk to Blu-ray and it looks astounding. The bar has already been set very high by VS and this is no slouch of a transfer. A 2K scan from a 16mm original negative, the presentation here is decidedly film like with thick grain present throughout and damage being impressively scarce. This is gorgeous and shows how well 16mm can make the transfer to HD (which VS already proved with the stunning scan for Hangs Upon Nothing earlier this year). Audio is DTS-HD 2.0 and it is what you’d expect it to be. The soundtrack is balanced, with dialogue coming through clear and no detrimental issues present. It can be a bit soft at times so I did find myself adjusting the volume early on, but once I had it set, I was good. Another great presentation by VS.
For supplements we get not one, but two commentary tracks! The first is with cinematographer Tom Howard which is moderated by David McCabe. This is a very lively track with Howard talking at length about working on China and Silk and how he made it look like it had a much bigger budget than it naturally did have. He also talks a lot about working with Steve Scott in general as he worked on all of Scott’s movies before he passed away in 1987, shortly after China & Silk was released. The second track is with Herschel Savage and Bill Margold, even though Margold isn’t even in the film! The two have a great conversation though which gets very anecdotal and off topic on more than a couple of occasions, with lots of reminiscing about performing sex on camera, relationships with co-stars and the craziness of being in the business 30+ years ago. It’s an always entertaining, albeit an uneven, track.
China and Silk is everything that I want in a genre movie and everything that I want from adult cinema. Making it, well, everything. But, honestly, you couldn’t ask for something more entertaining, sincere about what it is and as successful an entry point into the more XXX side of cinema than this. Vinegar Syndrome have brought the film to Blu-ray with a top notch presentation and two great commentary tracks that will undoubtedly be of interest for an series fans of vintage erotica. Highly Recommended.