DIRECTOR– Just Jaeckin
REVIEW– This film had grand designs. It tries. It tries desperately.
It desires to reproduce the swashbuckling style of Errol Flynn. It wants to imitate the famous Cary Grant/Irene Dunne onscreen chemistry. It wishes to bring the Spielberg magic to a pulp adventure. It wants to be Raiders Of The Lost Ark.
But instead, we get The Perils Of Gwendoline In The Land Of The Yik Yak… Yep. That’s the name they went with… from director Just Jaeckin… Seriously. You read that right. Just Jaeckin. That’s his name.
The onscreen chemistry Mr. Jaeckin so desperately tries to coax from the stars instead plays like a mean episode of The Honeymooners with Ralph and Alice at their worst, spewing disparaging insults at one another. It’s ugly stuff.
Tawny Kitaen comes across as a fine young starlet. She does what she could with such limited material. After all, what can an actress do when asked to drive in a leather-lingerie-clad, girl-drawn chariot race? She may have gone on to greater things, but for some reason, gyrating on the hood of a Jaguar is her legacy.
Just like Ms. Kitaen’s mainstream career, this whole movie misses the mark it was trying to achieve.
However, it misses it by so much, you can’t help but watch. It’s the epitome of the old “train wreck” metaphor.
Just when you think it’s going to turn the corner and become a competent film, it suddenly flys off the rails, hits an embankment and explodes in a spectacular conflagration of ineptitude. A simple moment between the stars becomes an uneasy, awkward, and hate-filled rant. A fun action sequence suddenly turns into a violent gorefest. An exotic location transforms into a sexist fetish wonderland.
But, hey, there’s a slew of Nazi-nun-dominatrix movies… True hate-filled misogynist gorefests are a staple of the B-movie genre. Gwendoline is a much kinder, gentler example. But none the less, still an exercise in misplaced indulgence.
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe all of this was intentional. Maybe the makers of Gwendoline planned the whole thing as a grand celebration of derision and vice.
If so, bravo on a sublime lampoon.