Gwendoline: Uncut (1984)

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Released 19-May-2011

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Fantasy Audio Commentary-Director Just Jaeckin
Featurette-The Perils of Just
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-UK Promo
Gallery-Promotional immage gallery
More…-Alternative US opening credits
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 1984
Running Time 100:21 (Case: 87)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Just Jaeckin
Studio
Distributor
Gryphon Entertainment Starring Tawny Kitaen
Brent Huff
Zabou Breitman
Bernadette Lafont
Jean Rougerie
Roland Amstutz
Jean Stanislas Capoul
Chen Chang Ching
Vernon Dobtcheff
André Julien
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $19.95 Music Pierre Bachelet
Bernard Levitte


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     Gwendoline (Tawny Kitaen) is a sweet, virginal convent girl who arrives with her friend Beth (Zabou) in the Far East. They are searching for Gwendoline’s father who disappeared while looking for an elusive, rare butterfly. Captured by slavers, Gwendoline is inadvertently rescued by Willard (Brent Huff). She immediately falls in love with him, but he wants nothing to do with Gwendoline or her search. However, through a convoluted series of circumstances he reluctantly joins the two women. Together they journey first up river, then into the jungle and across the desert, facing pirates, primitive native tribes and sandstorms before arriving in the hidden land of Yik Yak. This is a civilization populated exclusively by warrior women (who all wear skimpy leather fetish gear), ruled over by The Queen (Bernadette Lafont). When Willard’s gender is “uncovered”, The Queen has plans for him: her best warriors will fight a duel, the winner being permitted to make love to Willard. The catch is that after the love making, Willard will be put to death. Gwendoline must come up with a plan to save the man she loves, whether he wants her to or not.

     Based on a 1930s comic book by author John Willie, Gwendoline comes from French director Just Jaeckin, better known for soft porn films such as Emmanuelle (1974) and The Story of O (1975). Yet while there is lots of topless women in Gwendoline, and both Tawny Kitaen and Zabou look wonderful naked, this film is much more an Indiana Jones type comedy adventure, but with breasts and fetish gear! The one love scene in the film, in fact, takes place with the participants almost fully covered. Perhaps the title by which the film was released in the US in one version, The Perils of Gwendoline in the Land of the Yik Yak, gives a better idea of the tone and intent of the film. And indeed there is a lot to like in a film that has so many beautiful bodies on show yet never for a moment takes itself seriously. With good production values, impressive looking sets, and filmed on location in the Philippines and Morocco, the film looks very good although the special effects, such as the crocodile and destruction of the city at the end, are laughably poor. The fight scenes are also indifferent, with most kicks and punches obviously missing their target by a long way. Jaeckin in the commentary reveals that he wanted beautiful girls in the fights, not burly stunt women, and so the fights are indeed appealing eye candy – although the sequences with Huff are just as bad. The dialogue and acting is also wooden, but this all adds to the fun rather than the opposite.

     In fact Gwendoline is never short of cult moments. The set of Yik Yak, with half naked women strapped to mechanical machines that look as if they came straight out of Metropolis, the bondage gear, the other costumes looking like a cross between Japan and Ancient Egypt, the arena duel or the special “chariot race” sequence are all over the top, high camp, and tremendous fun. While not quite a guilty pleasure, Gwendoline is a rollicking adventure that never lets up. It may not be high art, but it is hugely entertaining.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Gwendoline is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, the original theatrical ratio, and is 16x9 enhanced.

     I doubt if the film, produced in 1984, has ever looked better. While some sections of the film appear to be on the soft side, detail is always good, colours clean and natural, blacks fine and shadow detail good. Brightness and contrast are generally fine, although around the 57:55 mark the skin tones took on a reddish tinge for a while. I did not notice any obvious film or film to video artefacts.

     The English subtitles are a bit of a challenge. The DVD cover promises English subtitles, and they are there as I did find them, but I have no idea how!! They cannot be selected either from the set up menu or from the remote either through “subtitles” or “display”. As I said, I did accidentally find them, but if any reader can work out how, please let me know. Once activated, they display in a pale yellow font and translate all the dialogue. However, if they are not activated, a substantial amount of amusing Chinese dialogue that occurs when Gwendoline is captured in the beginning of the film is not translated. There are also some major differences between the English dialogue and the English subtitles, as the subtitles seem to follow the French language dub.

     The layer change at 64:57 resulted in a slight pause.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     There are a number of audio options; English Dolby Digital 2.0 and 5.1 (both at 448 Kbps), French Dolby Digital 2.0 and 5.1 (192 Kbps and 448 Kbps) and an English language commentary track at 192 Kbps.

     Both 5.1 audio tracks are fine with dialogue clear and easy to understand. There is good separation and the surrounds are used for effects and music but without panning effects. The sub woofer was little used, but did support the music and some effects. The 2.0 tracks are not too bad either, but lack the depth and separation of the 5.1.

     The film was a French / US co-production with actors from both countries who spoke their native language on set. Thus, no matter whether you watch with the English language or French language enabled, there are lip synchronisation issues. However, none are overly distracting.

    The mainly electronic musical score by Pierre Bachelet and Bernard Levitte sounded dated, reminiscent of a John Carpenter score. It was occasionally intrusive.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Commentary by director Just Jaeckin

     Recorded in 2006, writers Tony Crawley, Frederic LeVere and director Just Jaeckin chat about a range of topics including Jaeckin’s career, people he knew and making Gwendoline. All three contribute to the discussion about locations, the cast, the stunts, influences and anecdotes. Interesting enough. Sometimes Jaeckin’s accent makes him difficult to understand and there are no subtitles.

Just Jaeckin Featurette The Perils of Just (17:47)

     An extended interview with director Just Jaeckin. He speaks in English about his recollections of the film, the actors and how he was known as a director of erotic films but wanted to make a comedy. He also explains why Gwendoline was his last film. Some black and white stills and film clips are used. An entertaining watch.

US Title Sequence (2:02)

     The film on this DVD plays with the French language title and end credits. This extra is the alternative US opening credits that give the title of the film as The Perils of Gwendoline.

Theatrical Trailer (2:12)

UK Promo Trailer (1:40)

Gallery (3:00)

     Posters, Lobby Stills and other promotional material. Silent, stills advance automatically.

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     Gwendoline has been released in various versions around the globe, including a trimmed version in Region 1 US which was called The Perils of Gwendoline in the Land of the Yik Yak. This current all region version is the same in Region 1 and Region 2. Buy local.

Summary

     While there are lots of topless women in Gwendoline, this film is more an Indiana Jones type comedy adventure, but with breasts and fetish gear! It may not be high art, but it is hugely entertaining.

     The video and audio are very good for a film produced in 1984, the extras are interesting and worthwhile.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Thursday, August 04, 2011
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S350, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 42inch Hi-Def LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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