Wednesday, February 24, 2010

WTF France?!?: The Perils of Gwendoline in the Land of the Yik-Yak

I won't lie- this thing is weird.  First, a little background.  This 1984 film is based on the Sweet Gwendoline comics done by John Willie in the '50s and '60s.  They revolve around the title character constantly being captured and tied up by enemies, only to be saved by some big, strong man.  These were made to compete with the real-life works of Betty Page.  Of course, that was then and this is now...of 26 years ago.  Who do you get to turn this weird shit into a movie?  How about Just Jaeckin- the guy responsible for Emmanuelle (only the first one, apparently), The Story of O and Lady Chatterley's Lover?  Yeah, that sounds about right.  This was a big opus too & proved to be the swan song of Mr. Jaeckin.  Well, if you're going to go, while not go out with a movie featuring woman fighting to the death to have sex with a man?  Before I reveal any of my future plans, let's jump right into my review of...
The film begins in Hong Kong, a city bustling with life.  In fact, it even has grown women (Tawny Kitaen) hiding out in boxes.  Our heroine is kidnapped by some cruel people and taken off to be traded.  Her companion (famous French actress Zabou) rushes to her aid, but that goes about as well as you might think it would  Note to 98 lb women out there- don't try to take down trained thugs by yourself.  Fortunately for our heroine, a big, muscular man (Strike Commando 2's Brent Huff) shows up to save the day...or just to get his money.  When she begs, he unties her and runs off, leaving her to possibly be captured again.  The two women reunite and try to recruit the man to help them.  He's not that willing to oblige, especially when their interference costs him some money at the table.  He tries to get rid of them again, but it does not work.  They are insistent that he helps them travel to the unexplored jungle and rescue Gwendoline's father.  After they show up on his boat, he tosses them off into the water.  An excuse to show the two women topless- why not?!?
Finally, he relents when the people who want to kill him show up and he does not have time to check them off the boat for the 600th time.  He still relents on the actual mission- we get it, movie!- but does take them to the site where her father is.  Unfortunately, the man is dying when they get there, but manages to send his daughter on the magical quest to retrieve a butterfly.  Yeah, that's what this is all about, people!  He agrees to take them on their journey when he is offered $2,000, failing to realize where the money is coming from.  It is coming from Gwendoline selling the drugs that he was supposed to traffic, plus a little bit for supplies.  Their journey takes them through both a desert and a jungle, because that's totally realistic.  One bit has the woman taking their tops off to collect rainwater necessary to refill their canteens.  These women are clearly not that bright.  Sadly, they get captured by some African-looking tribesmen.  Remind again where they are actualy at, please.  This leads to a real trippy scene where the man describes what it would be like to have sex with Gwendoline, causing both her and her companion to, um, enjoy it a lot.  After this, they start laughing...for some reason.  Eventually, they break free and go into another section of desert where the men won't go.  Ruh roh.
The place ends up being occupied by the warrior women of the Yik-Yak tribe.  They are tough, deadly and usually topless.  It turns out that the whole village is built underground (don't ask) around a diamond mine, which is run by the lone male- an old scientist.  He hangs around for the eventual money, although he is treated like crap.  A series of escapes and recaptures ensue, which also set-up our male lead wearing a thong for the entire third act.  Thanks, movie- now I can't floss anymore!  At one point, Gwendoline rescues her lady friend who is tied to a wall with a giant spike in front of her, only a long rope tied to a bit in her mouth keeping her alive.  Don't ask what that string is made of BTW- it will hurt your brain.  Gwendoline goes undercover as a warrior and competes in a tournament to earn the right to screw our male lead.  Gwendoline- progressive Feminist cinema.  Part of the tournament involves a fight between our heroine and the lone competitor, both of whom have tied up woman with shields attached to them.  The evil man sets off the volcano- damn you, red button- but is killed by the debris.  I would be remiss to ignore the chase scene involving our heroines and the Queen, both of whom are pulled by chariots of women.  In the end, the bad guys dies and our heroes escape, complete with the butterfly.
This movie is really not that good, but it is fun.  Nothing about this movie is all that original or unique- just oddly mixed together.  The acting is terrible, the set design is bizarre and the plot is ridiculous.  Then again, nothing in this movie is meant to be taken seriously.  It is meant to look like a big comic book come to life, albeit one with pointless T&A shots and Amazon women.  The best comparison for this movie tone-wise would be something like Danger: Diabolik.  It's a ridiculous movie that will only appeal to ridiculous people.  So yeah, I had a good time with it.  Is it all that memorable?  Not really.  Fans of pulp and silliness will like it though.  If nothing else, the DVD comes packed with a topless photo shoot for a French magazine made as cross promotion.  It also contains an audio interview with Mr. Willie that was taken by the Kinsey Institute.  How many action films do you know with that?  Incidentally, there is a British counterpoint to this- Jane and the Lost City.  Will it be next on the list?

Next up, a hard to find Jeffrey Combs film with a title that just sells itself.  What's it about?  Just read the title.  Stay tuned...


  1. Great find!
    I gotta check this one out for myself.

  2. Votre blog est très intéressant. Pour moi Gwendoline est un petit chef d'oeuvre très sympathique. Pour en juger par vous même, vous pouvez d'ailleurs voir de extraits en cliquant sur le lien ci-dessous :
    Il faut voir ce film comme un conte érotique. Oui, ce film est une véritable réussite.
    Amitiés cinéphiles