Although having long admired Just Jaeckins work, admittedly though only through the infamous classic 'Emmanuelle' and the less well known (but for myself far superior) 'Story of O', his movie 'Gwendoline' (or 'Perils of Gwendoline' as it was more commonly known Stateside) had pretty much missed my radar�that was until a Dead By Dawn Festival a few years back when the US trailer was screened to hollers of excitement to attendees. By the time the trailer had finished showing I knew then that this was a movie I simply had to see.

The problem though with 'Gwendoline' was that at that time any chance of seeing the film intact (let alone with English audio or subtitles) was near to impossible�that was until the fine folk at Nucleus Films announced that they had picked up the movie for a remastered UK DVD release. My initial response was admittedly one of mixed emotions�on one hand I was thrilled that such an obscure exploitation gem would be handled by some of the most talented UK producers (being Marc Morris and Jake West) but on the other hand it was well known that the film was never a popular one over at the British Board of Film Censors�well my mind was about to be put at ease when news came through that the BBFC are indeed trying to shake off the old 'censor' label by passing 'Gwendoline' fully uncut�so would this be the 'perfect' release that 'Gwendoline' had long deserved?

The plot (for what it's worth) plays very much like a dated soft core exploitation spoof of the Indiana Jones series�ex-convent girl Gwendoline (played by Tawny Kitaen) smuggles herself off to the far east in search of her long lost father (last seen heading off to jungle in search of an alleged undiscovered butterfly, yes butterfly)�Gwendoline though very quickly finds herself in the clutches of some unscrupulous (and lecherous) local gangsters who sell her to a gambling crime lord (complete with nunchak welding lackeys) for his personal sexual gratification. Thankfully though (well for the sake of Gwendolines chastity at least) she is saved by the movies very own Indiana Jones 'Willard' (played by the aptly named Brent Huff) and is soon off on a 'thrilling' adventure to the land of the Yik Yak.

Now you may be thinking so what's so thrilling about this? What could have such a plot have that would be of interest to any exploitation movie fan? Well, from the word go this one has 'exploitation gem' written all over it�from the films sleazy (and welcomingly violent) opening kung action through to an ongoing low level of sleaze throughout (watch in astonishment as Gwendoline and Willard seek advice from an associate who merrily chats away to them whilst having oral sex performed on him�to the seriously jaw dropping finale in the land of Yik Yak (which pretty much consists of near naked futuristic warrior women in various states of perverse torture scenarios and violent fight scenes); 'Gwendoline' shines as one of the long ignored exploitation gems that begs rediscovery by a new generation of genre film fans.

Of course, it has to be said that the film is by no means a 'classic' but if viewed for what it is (an admittedly somewhat dated but still thoroughly enjoyable 'exploitation treat) it will be a welcome addition to most fans collections. With this DVD release Nucleus Films have given the film the four star treatment in what will indeed be the movies 'perfect' release. The image on show is presented in pristine pin sharp anamorphic widescreen with options of both the original French (with optional English subtitles) and dubbed English audio tracks (all with either 2 channel or 5.1 surround tracks).

As for extras, there's plenty here to sate both fans of the movie and newcomers alike; kicking proceedings off is a nice all new interview piece with Just Jaeckin ('The Perils Of Just') where he discusses the production of the movie, Jaeckin also shows up in a full length audio commentary (along with Frederic Albert Levy moderated by enthusiast Tony Crawley). There's also two lengthy gorgeous trailers for the movie (which play on the opening score which is reminiscent of John Carpenter's early work), the American opening credits (which simply add the more fun titling of the 'Perils of Gwendoline'), some interesting text coverage of the films history at the BBFC (this film obviously upset the late James Ferman for its high level of pervy action) and a collection of nice still galleries (including a rarely seen collection of glamorous snaps produced specially to promote the film in French magazine 'Lui').

As I said, 'Gwendoline' is not a genre classic, but more a welcomingly perverse snapshot of exploitation films of old (though this is perhaps ripe for a remake - Bruce Campbell would be well cast in Willards role). Nucleus Films DVD release of 'Gwendoline' though is perhaps their strongest to date and with this perfect package you need no look no further for your fix of exploitation fun.

Review by Alan Simpson

Released by Nucleus Films
Region 2 - PAL
Rated 18
Extras :
see main review