One of my favorite discoveries via Vinegar Syndrome’s output has been adult films that legitimately work as genre cinema. Dixie Ray Hollywood Star and China and Silk immediately come to mind as pulpy genre films that add hardcore to the mix (or vice versa) and succeed immensely at doing both better than many filmmakers do with either solo. We can now add to that growing list China Girl, a 1974 decidedly adult take on the espionage genre and we definitely aren’t in 007 territory.
If China Girl has notoriety, it’s likely for casting Big Trouble In Little China‘s James Hong as the lead villain (though he’s billed under a different name on screen) but the fun doesn’t start and stop there. China Girl is completely committed to being a spy film starring Tom Douglass as a spy named Chase and Annette Haven as a chemist named Teresa, whom Chase is naturally deployed to “protect.” And the plot all revolves around the usual espionage tropes of world domination, a syndicate with an ominous one word name (Dragon), ethnic exploitation, drug smuggling and, of course, mind control!
This would all be a rote genre exercise if director Paul Aratow (Doctor Dracula) didn’t manage to keep things so lively and the cast wasn’t so committed to the material. Haven and Douglass have great chemistry and Hong is clearly having a great time playing the evil syndicate head honcho complete with his own secret lair. For a hardcore feature, the sex isn’t all that plentiful in China Girl – with a sex scene not even appearing until about 1/4 through – but when it’s on screen, it is well done and fun and works into the narrative really well. China Girl is a great time, it’s another entry into the line of adult genre cinema that could be an easy gateway into hardcore films for those a bit leery.
Vinegar Syndrome bring China Girl to Blu-ray for the first time and the results are fantastic, as expected. Originally shot on 16mm, China Girl benefits greatly from the 2K scan of its original negative. This results in a thick grain structure, in line with that of other HD presentations of 16mm content. The source is clean and the colors are rich. This is a very nice transfer. Audio is DTS HD MA 1.0, faithfully replicating the original mono soundtrack with no noticeable issues, handling the dialogue, effects and funky 70s soundtrack with ease.
Supplements include a 22 minute audio interview with Haven which is a candid, career spanning conversation discussing her work in adult film which should be of high interest for fans of this type of cinema. A theatrical trailer is also included.
China Girl is a ton of fun, a sexy spy film that is lean and committed to being both an espionage narrative and a hardcore picture and excels at both. Vinegar Syndrome have brought it to Blu-ray with a stellar A/V presentation and an interview with Annette Haven which should make this purchase a no-brainer for adult cinema fans. Highly Recommended.