Directed by Walerian Borowczyk and Steve Barnett
Starring Monique Gabrielle, C. Hardester, Yaseen Khan
Release Date: January 7, 1987 (Original French Version)
73 Minutes (U.S. Version)/Color
To say the Emmanuelle pump was running dry by 1987 would certainly be truth in advertising. EMMANEULLE 5 exists in three equally demented, disjointed cuts. There is the original French snoozefest, the slightly more coherent “international” cut and the over-the-top, delirious and often arduous experience that was released Stateside. Having seen all three versions (a dubious honor to be sure) I must admit that while the US version is the most thematically inept – it is, at least, the most entertaining…albeit not for the reasons the filmmakers intended.
Emmanuelle, a blousy sexploitation bombshell, is mobbed and stripped bare in Cannes – and eventually finds sanctuary on the boat of a nerdy doorknob factory owner. She later schtupps her way out of the clutches of a Sheik’s harem and machine guns dozens of stock-footage soldiers before returning to the waiting arms of Mr. Doorknob who swoops her off in his plane…which crashes. You can’t make this shit up, folks!
The freewheeling charm of the original cinematic delineation of Emmanuelle is completely absent from EMMANUELLE 5. To be fair, this is hardly the star’s doing. The script jerks back and forth between badly-translated art-house erotica parlance and mind-numbing American sex-comedy drivel. The cast is truly international, which could have been interesting if they didn’t all seem to have been spliced in from completely different films.
While the international version was, at best, interesting to look at, the Roger Corman-sponsored US release dispenses with any attempt at artful erotica. Emmanuelle the sexual libertine becomes Emmanuelle the gun-toting freedom fighter, parading her perky bosom through the jungles (wait, jungles?) of a nameless Middle Eastern hellhole. Upon escaping from the harem, Emmanuelle hurls grenades and mows down soldiers like a blonde mid-80’s Pam Grier wannabe. What’s wrong with this picture? Where’s Jean, her lovable Lothario of a husband when you need him?
But, what do I know? Corman’s recut EMMANUELLE 5 was a late-night stalwart for nearly a decade. The film can be enjoyed as brainless fun – so long as you check your intellect, and any expectations of thematic coherence, at the door.
The film is readily available on DVD. It should be noted that the US cut was assembled on video, no film print exists, nor is there a widescreen version. I’m sure we’re not missing a damn thing.