|Index||7 reviews in total|
I bought this DVD not expecting a whole lot given its price tag of $6.99,
and it was neither better nor worse than I expected. Only bought it
Jennifer Jason Leigh, who stars, is one of my favorite actresses. BTW,
might be confused looking at the DVD's front cover (which IMDb
because it shows a picture of co-star Ann Jillian with a caption of
"Jennifer Jason Leigh". Dunno if the schlock DVD producers didn't know
difference or if they just thought the photo of Jillian all dolled up like
prostitute would be more eye-grabbing.
The film itself is about as good as you'd expect a U.S. TV "movie of the week" from 1983 to be. Interestingly, there's some nudity (the breasts of Jennifer Jason Leigh and a couple of other actresses make an appearance), so I wonder if it was produced for a pay-TV channel.
I was surprised to find out after watching the film that it's based on a true story (I don't think they mention this in the credits anywhere). You'd never think this given the unrealistic nature of many of the events in the film.
Other than the stilted dialogue, lack of imagination, bog-standard camera setups, and whatnot, an annoying factor is the cross-racial casting. True, the average American can't tell at a glance from where in Asia someone comes from, but Asians can tell, and Asiaphiles can tell. Much worse than the non-Japanese-looking actors, however, is the absolutely horrible pronunciation of Japanese dialogue. Oddly, none of the Japanese dialogue is subtitled, which wouldn't have been too terrible for me, as I speak Japanese, but the language is so butchered by the non-Japanese-natives that I couldn't comprehend much of it. In one scene an American actress seems to use nonsense syllables when she's supposed to be speaking Japanese (perhaps she couldn't remember her line or they didn't get it translated for her in time or something).
To sum up, fans of Jennifer Jason Leigh (or T2 score-writer Brad Fiedel) may want to watch this out of curiosity, but others need not bother. Personally, I had to watch Leigh's wonderful performance in "The Hudsucker Proxy" afterwards to wash the bad taste out of my mouth.
Oriental bad guys entice a sweet, naive young American girl named Carol
(Jennifer Jason Leigh) to Tokyo, ostensibly to further her singing
career. But the bad guys run a prostitution ring out of a Tokyo club
called the White Orchid. And Carol's real job is that of a prostitute.
Carol resists, and her boyfriend leaves the U.S. to rescue her. Based
on a real life event, this made-for-TV film is sub-par.
For one thing, Leigh is miscast. She's too young and too innocent looking. Another problem is that beyond the basic premise, there just isn't that much to the story. Pacing is slow. Characters spend a lot of time walking around on the streets. Ancillary singers sing and perform in the club. All of which add up to ... filler.
The film has a cheap, made-for-TV look and feel. Music is nondescript. Acting is stilted. The film's ending is predictable and visually unimaginative. "Girls Of The White Orchid" is rather like an inferior imitation of an extended episode of Hawaii Five-O. I kept waiting for Steve McGarrett to show up to tell his partner: "book'em, Danno".
In Los Angeles, the naive and lonely burger waitress and aspirant
singer Carol Heath (Jennifer Jason Leigh) finds an advertisement in the
newspaper with a job opportunity in Tokyo. She has a meeting with the
agents, the American Cavanaugh (Philip Charles MacKenzie) and the
Japanese Shiro (Richard Narita); she signs the contract in English and
Japanese and travels to Japan to work at the White Orchid night-club.
She shares a hotel room with a dancer and sooner she discovers the
scheme of prostitution in the club that belongs to Yakuza. Alone,
without money and her passport, she is protected by Shiro, but pressed
by the managers Madame Mori (Carolyn Seymour) and her husband Mori
(Mako) to be receptive to client's proposals. Meanwhile her former
boyfriend returns to LA and seeks her out.
"Girls of the White Orchid" is a good story of trafficking of human beings, showing the recruitment, transfer and reception of white slaves. Unfortunately, the plot becomes unrealistic in the moment that Carol refuses to prostitute, and has an awful commercial conclusion with the rescue of her boyfriend. There are better recent movies about this theme but considering that this is a TV movie of 1983, I believe it is one of the first to deal with this subject. The reviews in IMDb and the IMDb User Rating are very unfair with this film. My vote is seven.
Title (Brazil): "Escravas Brancas" ("White Slaves")
Viewed this film under the title, "Death Ride to Osaka" which is the same film as "Girls of the White Orchid" which deals with the Japanese Mafia who run an establishment that deals with young girls from America who have some talent like singing and dancing and are willing to selling their bodies for entertainment. However, these young girls are hired by an agency in the Los Angeles who advertise for young talented gals and they have no idea what they are really being hired for. Jennifer Jason Leigh, (Carol Heath) is one of these young girls who falls into this trap and finds herself trapped in Japan and at the mercy of dirty old men and Mafia pimps. This story goes on and on and begins to get very boring with girls trying to escape and some being sent to OSAKA.
Death Ride To Osaka is quite a harrowing film, where at the end of this, from our lead's perspective, we too feel drained as we've been put through this poor girl's ordeal. A vulnerable girl (Leigh) answers an ad for a hostess/ singer, and boy, is she mislead. The ads a front for a sex slavery ring. This is an all too real situation, where our innocents who show promise, whether it's in singing, acting, modelling, travel to Asian countries where it's not long before they're hooked on drugs, and are selling their bodies, where the crime syndicates profit big time. Here our lass, is a promising singer, where here in Tokyo, is not all she ends up doing. Defying the bastards who are using her for sex, she goes to the authorities to no avail. She is truly trapped. The boyfriend, a marine, who returns home, sets out after her, he too describing his girlfriend as vulnerable. Death Ride doesn't go for the sex or nudity either. There's little of either. It takes it's subject from a realistic standpoint, where we share Carol's journey and plight to escape this hell hole. And when the girls complain too much, they're sent on that death ride, where in Osaka, it's a much deeper hell. An older woman who's sent there, escapes, and is run down. A younger woman at the start, protesting to an older John about touching her, we revisit her later where she now looks older and highly drugged, forming a lazy speech pattern. Leigh fits the bill superbly amongst other good players. Although a t.v. movie. this is an eye opener for teens out there who have stars in their eyes, not to be duped by every ad they see, where this film serves as a forewarning to the dangers that are hugely present in far away countries.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
After studying the four comments made previously to this one, I see no need to do more than fill in the oversights from same. Obviously, anyone commenting on this title on IMDb has most likely seen a cheap DVD version (if and when the Jennifer Jason Leigh Collection comes out, this virtual public service announcement will NOT make the cut). The cheesiness of my DVD packagers ("Kreative Digital Entertainment" and "Hearst Entertainment") is exemplified by their clearly listing this 1983 flick as a "2004" film in the middle of the back cover. But just because these rip-off artists (who offer absolutely no extras--not even a trailer) are anachronistic, that's no excuse to retroactively fault this movie or JJL's Carol Heath character for being too naive, since it would not be until the next century that Dateline NBC ground out umpteen thousand internet sex stings. At the time this true-life warning sounded, many of the 20-something women I knew could well have been suckered in by the make-your-fortune-in-Tokyo gambit. After all, not much later an unknown never-was named Cecil Fielder returned to the U.S. from the Japanese off-off Broadway and immediately became the first major leaguer to bash out a 50-homer season in decades.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I admit I rented this purely because the above named actress was in it
so I felt it must be good. While I did not know this was based on a
true story until I found IMDb, that doesn't change the fact that the
movie was of low caliber even though it gives the story in general an
extra dose of heartbreak.
Let me start with the positves. Good acting. Well what else to expect from Ms Lee? She is a top quality actress and she gives it her all here. Actually everyone was believable. The movie was a bit frightening at points in its believability.
But the negatives outweigh the positives. here's the problem.This was WAY to movie of the weekish.(which maybe it was-I had thought it was a straight to video movie until I read otherwise on here.) But the movie makers had the ingredients to make a good picture-sad, realistic subject matter, and one of the most talented actresses of our generation. Unfortunately that didn't happen.Instead, we get a picture that seemed at times almost exploitative. When I rented it I had no idea how much nudity there was and it seemed to me a lot of things were done for shock value. This just reminded me of those late night b movies that run when most people are asleep and don't know their on. Knowing now that this was based on a true story it seems, even more so, that stronger material could have been developed so the acotrs/actresses would have had more to work with. I admit I rented it based on the fact that Jennifer was in it. But I expected more quality and there should have been more. I would unfortunately not give this more then a 3 or 4 out of 10-though higher for the acting. It's to Jennifer's credit that even in a weak picture she still steals the show.
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