Vinegar Syndrome has released a special edition of the 1975 erotic film "China Girl" as a special edition Blu-ray/DVD. Before the advent of home video, hardcore movies had to rely on adult movie theaters for exhibition. Consequently, at least some attempt at achieving a level of sophistication was generally undertaken. "China Girl" is one of the more ambitious productions from this time period. The film is a quasi-James Bond thriller and the Maguffin is some nonsense about some bad people trying to steal the formula for a mind control process that is known to only a handful of scientists. The titular character is an Asian beauty named Madame Woo (Pamela Yen in her only screen credit). Woo is employed by an organization known as DRAGON that is systematically hunting down the scientists to extract the portion of the formula that they carry with them. This is achieved by subjecting them to a bizarre torture (if you want to call it that): they are tied up and sexually stimulated by a bevy of naked women until they go insane with pleasure and disclose the top secret information. U.S intelligence sources are in a panic mode because the only remaining scientist has not been compromised. She is Teresa Hardgrave (adult film legend Annette Haven) and the government sends a hunky agent, David Chase (Tom Douglass in his only credited screen role) to look after her well-being. Does he ever...Almost instantly, the two become lovers even as the plot thickens. DRAGOn has dispatched one of its top agents, torture master Y.C. Chan (James Hong) to capture Teresa, which he succeeds in doing. She is brought to the mansion house of Madame Woo, who tries to intimidate Teresa into cooperating. When she refuses do do so, Teresa is given the same "torture" the other scientists endured: she is subjected to a bisexul orgy, but emerges unscathed and very much happier. Her ability to withstand a time-tested method for extracting information infuriates Chan, who promises to use more traditional methods on Teresa, who has since been seduced by Madame Woo herself (don't ask!).
Despite some hokey elements, "China Girl" is an extremely impressive achievement in adult filmmaking during this era. The film benefits from a sizable budget which director Paolo Ucello (real name Paul Aratow) uses wisely. Much of the film features fancy hotels, expensive cars and other extravagances not usual found in a hardcore production. There are also impressive location shots in San Francisco. As for the acting, most of it is adequate or better, with Haven as wisecracking, kick ass heroine who remains nonplussed no matter what danger she is confronted by. It should be mentioned that a genuine star appears in the film: James Hong (billed here as "James Young"), an acclaimed supporting actor whose credits include such stellar productions as "The Sand Pebbles", "Blade Runner" and "Kung Fu Panda". Hong keeps his clothes on throughout and his presence lends an air of further respectability to the film. The sex scenes are intermittent, as the story takes prominence, but they are well-staged and highly erotic. The Vinegar Syndrome is outstanding on all levels. The film's previous DVD release by another company was said to be awful and Vinegar Syndrome has come to the rescue. The release includes a recent audio interview with Annette Haven, who comes across as an intelligent, likable lady. She states that she felt she elevated the quality of the adult films she starred in by presenting the sex scenes in a manner that would appeal to couples. She insisted that some of the coarser "money shot" elements of the genre would not appear in her films. Haven's talents extend to her ability to provide a good performance in terms of screen acting and she went on to have some success in mainstream movies before retiring from the industry. The Vinegar Syndrome release also includes the original trailer and reversible sleeve art. The discs are also region-free and can be played internationally.