CHINA AND SILK (1984) Blu-ray/DVD combo
Director: Steve Scott
Vinegar Syndrome

TRASHY LADY director Steve Scott gives fans a taste of the Orient with his twisty drug trafficking thriller CHINA AND SILK, on Blu-ray/DVD combo from Vinegar Syndrome.

When he discovers that his Nam buddy and police colleague Mike (Paul Thomas, LET'S GET PHYSICAL) has died of an apparent drug overdose along in bed with a hooker (Tawny Mason), Captain Harry Parker (Harry Reems, BUTTERFLIES) hits the roof and vows to discover who killed him for the sake of his friend's widow Nancy (Colleen Brennon, LADY DYNAMITE). He discovers that Mike was undercover with Charlie (Herschel Savage, PRETTY PEACHES 2) and Mandy (Ginger Lynn, TOO NAUGHTY TO SAY NO) and staking out Wong Imports for importing drugs inside fortune cookies. They soon discover that the real brains behind Wong Imports' illicit operations is not Sid Rosen (Paul Baressi, MEN OF THE MIDWAY) but Lily Chang (Kristara Barrington, FIREFOXES). Bugging Lily's residence, Charlie and Mandy discover (in between probing each other) that the woman has coerced addicted stewardess Sandy (Cara Lott, SWEET YOUNG FOXES) into being a drug mule. Charlie and Mandy decide to intervene in the next trade off, but they seem to be working at cross purposes with U.S. Customs (as represented by CORPORATE ASSETS' Eric Edwards) who may or may not be on the straight and narrow.

A rather muddled hardcore thriller, CHINA AND SILK is a good-looking film but rather uninspired in terms of plotting, performance, and even the staging and filming of its sex scenes. Reems' Parker never actually becomes involved in the investigation apart from being in the office during contact with the surveillance van, while the loyalties of other law enforcers seem ambiguous as a result of the construction rather than an attempt to engender suspense. Any actual headway Parker tries to make in the case before the camera runs out of film is hindered by the busy schedule of his hooker informant (Susan Hart, FORBIDDEN FRUIT) who has sex with him in his car in the middle of a parking lot and is next contacted by Parker over the phone while she is in the middle of a two man (NEW WAVE HOOKERS' Peter North and HARDBODIES' Biff Malibu) three woman (Hart along with CLUB HEAD's Gina Carrera and SPERMBUSTERS' Debbie Northrup) orgy that includes some daisy chain oral pleasure along with one of North's splashy climaxes. A couple of twists at the end are unexpected but feel rather self-satisfied thanks to the lack of development for three important characters (even some additional sex scenes with them might have helped). Despite opportunities for everybody else to have sex, the film cannot fit in either Brennan (aka Sharon Kelly) or Ken Starbuck (OUI GIRLS) who just glares at targets as Lily's henchman.

Scanned and restored in 2K from the original 16mm camera negative, CHINA AND SILK's 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC 1.85:1 looks spotless, boldly colorful, and well-detailed for the most part with the exception of some shots that seem more out-of-focus than soft-focus, betraying its 16mm lensing in the grain of the otherwise crisp close-ups but sometimes on par with some of the 35mm adult films of this period thanks largely to the efforts of cinematographer Howard Wexler (THE JIGSAW MURDERS) who is better known for his low-budget softcore and exploitation work of the 1980s and 1990s (including works by David DeCoteau and Fred Olen Ray). The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track boasts clear dialogue and music (mostly Oriental strings with the exception of the orgy scene).

The only extras are a pair of newly-recorded audio commentaries. On the first cinematographer Tom Howard (COMING WEST) is moderated by filmmaker David McCabe. Although Howard did not photograph the film, he did have a long working relationship with director Scott (aka Sal Grasso) and had previously appeared on a commentary track for TRASHY LADY while McCabe was Scott's assistant. This is presumably a part one to the aforementioned commentary since Howard starts with his education, shooting Monday Night Football, and how he met Scott when he met with trepidation the request to serve as "an extra set of hands" on an all-male adult film as well as McCabe who he credits with giving him a masterclass in filmmaking. He also discusses Scott's mainstream work and connections as Sal Grasso, as well as the places they overlapped (including John Cassavetes being as interested as other non-porn with seeing the shooting of a porn film). They also provide some discussion of the parallel development of the gay porn production scene alongside straight porn following DEEP THROAT. The second track features Savage and XRCO co-founder Bill Margold who describe it as a "throwaway film" with "more cops than robbers" as the climax gets deliberately muddled by customs and the cops working at cross purposes (they note with annoyance how little screen time buddy Paul Thomas has and believe Carrera was wasted in the orgy scene). They discuss their working relationships and friendships with some of the cast, including Reems who was on and off the wagon while they knew him, Edwards and Lynn who were dating at the time, Barrington, Lott, and especially North whose "pop shots" they expound upon. They also speak less warmly of Chris Ross who was actually Biff Malibu who founded the rough porn label Anabolic as well as their recent contact with a writer who they felt treated their profession with disdain despite wanting to write about it. A standard-definition DVD of the film and extras is also included. (Eric Cotenas)