Gwendoline (1984)
By: J.R. McNamara on February 17, 2009  | 
Beyond (Australia). All Regions, PAL. 2.35:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 2.0, English DD 5.1, French DD 2.0, French DD 5.1. 100 minutes
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Just Jaeckin
Starring: Tawny Kitaen, Brent Huff, Zabou Breitman, Bernadette Lafont, Jean Rougerie, Roland Amstutz
Screenplay: Just Jaeckin
Country: France
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In his career, French director Just Jaeckin made several films that are well known: Emmanuelle, The Story of O and Lady Chatterley's Lover. His career was cut short, though - not by a horrifying accident or that he couldn't get more work, no, it stopped because he considered his films his children, and the cast and crew his family, and found it hard to spend so long making something, and to then allow it to be released… out of his hands. He truly believes that it was hard to build a family for a film, and then to separate, perhaps never to work again. His entire output of films sits at eight, his last film being this one, Gwendoline.

I must say I wish he had stopped at seven; that way, this red-headed stepchild of a film would never have been let loose on the Earth.

Gwendoline, or The Perils of Gwendoline in the Land of the Yik Yak… I kid you not… tells of the spoilt yet sexy whiner, Gwendoline (Tawny Kitaen) who is travelling abroad in search of her missing father, who had spent his life looking for a particular butterfly. Her search has taken her to the Far East, where she meets up with her partner, Beth (French model Zabou) and the pair almost immediately falls afoul of some shady locals, who intend on selling them both into slavery.

Lucky for the girls, they are accidentally rescued by local scoundrel and total arsehole Willard (Brent Huff) who kills their would-be captors in an effort to retrieve some money owed to him. After some shenanigans and manipulations, the girls convince Willard to come with them on the hunt for her father. In their efforts to find Gwendoline's father, the trio come across shady river businessmen, a tribe of savages, a volcano (which is spoken of but never actually seen) and a society of gladiatorial women, most of whom walk around with their boobs out… obviously much action and adventure ensues…

There are so many things to criticize this film for: the God awful sets, the particularly atrocious dubbing, the obviously rubber weapons, the threatened closing halls that stop…and yet still make the noise of stone scraping on stone. I appreciate that this film is supposed to be little more than cheap thrills, but a little pride in special effects couldn't really go too far astray, could it? I could continue with describing the terrible cat fights, the dumb kung fu scene, the completely stupid cartoonish chase scene and more, but I am perhaps being too harsh, as there were elements of this film that I enjoyed watching; sure most of them hung off the chests of the female cast, but Tawny Kitaen is truly breathtaking. A girl next door type with a simmering sexuality that makes her really stand out amongst the other girls in this film, it is just a shame she is cast opposite Brent Huff, a model/slash actor who I hope was excellent at his craft, cause if he was really as much of a prick as his character in this film was, he would have had no friends at all!!
This film is presented in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio with 16:9 enhancement, and apart from occasional, tiny film artifacts, the transfer quality is stunning, particularly considering the movies' age.
The soundtrack is presented in Dolby Surround 5.1 and isn't bad. The problem with the sound in this film comes from the completely annoying score, and the fact that practically none of the dubbing was in sync. It almost took my attention off the naked chests…which is frustrating! A French audio track is also provided, but there are no accompanying English subtitles.
Extra Features
There are some not bad extras on this DVD.

First we have 'The Perils of Just' where director Just Jaeckin looks back at his career, discusses the filming of Gwendoline (with GREAT affection I might add) and also looks at why he decided to quit making films.

The Alternate American Opening shows the opening titles of the film but with the American title 'The Perils of Gwendoline'.

The Theatrical Trailer is the French trailer for the film which shows a little titillation, but basically tries to sell itself as a sexy Indiana Jones flick.

The UK Promo is more or less the same as the French Trailer.

The Gallery is a useful one for a change: this time, it shows posters, lobby stills and video artwork. Attention DVD producers: this is what you should feature in your image galleries, not just stills from the film we just watched!!
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
My problem with this film is its lack of identity: it's not sexy enough to be a soft-core stick film and it's not adventurous enough to be an example of amazing high adventure. This film just plods along with the biggest bunch of unlikable characters in the history of film, performing a dumb script in some of the worst sets ever. I would normally say that you should avoid this film completely, but Tawny Kitaen is particularly hot, and there is a fair bit of topless-ness in this film, so maybe it's at least worth a peek? N'est-ce pas?

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