Review: The Vixens Of Kung Fu / Oriental Blue

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Another Vinegar Syndrome pairing of mid-Seventies hardcore movies, this time a couple of 1975 low rent efforts from director Bill Milling (though of course, you won’t see that name anywhere on the credits). Neither are top level hardcore and certainly not Porno Chic, but as examples of the scuzzier end of the industry, both are worth a look and the first film manages to provide some inadvertent laughs along the way.

The Vixens of Kung Fu is credited to Chiang, and seems a half-baked attempt to cash in on what was already a dwindling cult. Although the opening titles and Water Margin-style voice over suggest that the film will be a period piece, the film is in fact set in the (mid-Seventies) modern day. Cute Bree Anthony plays Paula, a young woman – and, as later discover, prostitute – who is taking a stroll in the park when three sleazeballs (two of whom are sleazeball specialists Jamie Gillis and Bobby Astyr) start to hassle her. She flees, but is shot with a tranquilliser gun and then raped by all three.

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As she regains consciousness, she’s adopted by three Kung Fu vixens, led by C.J. Laing, who teach her the secrets of martial arts through a combination of meditation, garbled philosophy and lesbian sex – lots of lesbian sex. When passing kung fu artist Yang (Tony Richards) turns up, he’s used and abused by the women before being dismissed as inadequate in terms of sexual performance and kung fu prowess. He heads to Chinatown to track down a noted Kung Fu master (Peonies Jung) who agrees to teach him kung fu skills – these lessons mostly involve jerking off, so I imagine half the viewers of this film are martial arts experts by now.

This film is a bit of a mess, quite frankly. The story goes nowhere – it’s reasonable to expect that Anthony will use her new martial arts powers to get revenge on the rapists, but no – they are pretty much forgotten and the film eventually just fizzles out. But within the messy plot structure, there are certainly moments that entertain. Apparently, meditation causes pussies to smoke, while Laing’s moments of female empowerment and the sloppy kung fu fights are pretty hilarious – no amount of rapid editing can disguise the facts that no one knows what they are doing (there’s a credit for “special kung fu fighting” at the beginning, but God knows what that actually was). Bizarre dialogue about the rapists being “upper class men” who use a “gun of anaesthesia” on the lower orders hints at the film being set in some alternate reality, but this goes nowhere. And frankly, if the three rapists, who look like tramps, are the elite of this society, then the mind boggles!

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Obviously done on the cheap, the film has several scenes that are without sync sound – which is very distracting, given how much dialogue is featured in them – and lifts music from various sources. There are snippets of Tubular Bells here, bits of Enter the Dragon there. Pretty much the whole movie takes place outdoors, which I guess will appeal to fans of public sex, and the whole sordid thing is given a lift by the two leads – Bree Anthony is no actress, but is wholesomely sexy, while C.J. Laing has a very 1970s sophisticated sexuality about her. They make the film seem better than it is.

Oriental Blue is the better known of the two films, and certainly the better made. Featuring much of the cast of The Vixens of Kung Fu (and directed as Phillip T. Drexler Jr), this is a sordid tale of white (and black) slavery with Peonies Jung as the fiendish Madam Blue, who runs her human trafficking ring from the back of a Chinese restaurant. Snatching girls off the streets with the assistance of seedy Max (Bobby Astyr) and slimy Brock (Jamie Gillis), she gives them her ‘love juice’ to drink – a powerful and addictive aphrodisiac that makes them insatiable sex slaves. Together with sex partner Angel (C.J. Laing), she snatches Kim Pope, Juliet Graham and Terri Hall (who gets a standout sex scene with Tony Richards). But when Brock falls for his latest captive (Bree Anthony), things start to fall apart.

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Oriental Blue is the more interesting film in this pairing. Despite the premise, there are no unsavoury rape scenes here, and the storyline is more effectively developed, even if it does become rather confused in the final act. Peonies Jung is effective as the Madam Olga-style dragon lady (and has quite the mouth on her – rarely have I heard such lascivious dialogue in a 1970s film!) and Milling actually comes up with some impressive visual moments that hint at the ability he would show in later films. The soundtrack is, once again, a copyright nightmare – as well as more Enter the Dragon lifts, you’ll also enjoy songs by The Move, Linda Ronstadt and the Beatles. In fact, there could be fun had playing ‘name that tune’ while watching this.

And sexually, it’s much better too – hot scenes with Hall, Anthony, Laing and Pope still have a potency even now. Gillis is given the chance to do some actual acting – something that always lifts his movies and Astyr is a little less annoying here than he was in Vixens…

While perhaps not essential erotic cinema, this is nevertheless a must-see release for fans of Seventies smut. Oriental Blue is, perhaps, a minor classic and so worth the admission fee alone, while The Vixens of Kung Fu is a good representation of what was found, if not at the bottom of the barrel, then at least at good way down. And both films look remarkably fresh – much better than any previously available editions – thanks to the always exemplary efforts of Vinegar Syndrome.

DAVID FLINT

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