Director: Kuei Chih Hung/Ernst Hofbauer. Kuei
Starring: Sonja Jeannine, Diana Drube, Tamara Elliot, Gillian Bray,Deborah Ralls
The mid 70s was an interesting period for the Shaws. Having had already hooked up with England's Hammer studio for Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires and Shatter, Sir Run Run and Runme decide to follow it up with this 1974 East German co-production that mixes martial arts, sex, nudity and a decidedly goofy atmosphere to produce a true one of a kind experience.
In the film, five Western women (not seven as indicated by the British retitling) are kidnapped by Chinese pirates and sold to a brothel. They are rigorously "trained" and brought at night to The King for "entertaimnment". Two locals take mercy on them and help plot their escape while teaching them various useful martial arts tricks, the highlight of which is using pits as projectile weapons. The training sequences (both sex and combat) are jaw dropping in their "matter of fact" presentation.
This is an odd mixture of light comedy and somewhat darker soft core nudity that is usually seen in WIP type films. This undoubtedly is due to the fact that two very different directors are credited; Kuei Chih Hung and Ernst Hofbauer. Kuei would direct some rather unorhodox kung fu films like Coward Bastard and Killer Constable. Hofbauer is credited for the popular Schoolgirl Report series. Exactly who directed what here is unclear, but it works despite (or maybe because of) some noticeable shifts in tone.
The five actresses (Sonja Jeannine, Diana Drube, Tamara Elliot, Gillian Bray and Deborah Ralls) who make up the Virgins of the title (though as it's discovered, only three of them have yet to be deflowered) are all not only extremely easy on the eyeballs, but also are a surprisingly personable group who (aside from the nastier abuse scenes) appear to be genuinely enjoying themselves (of course, who knows if they actually were). At least two of them appear to actually know martial arts which is unusual for white actresses. The one who stands out among the five is the leader (played by Bray), a six foot tall brunette actress who simply will not go along with anything the nasty King and his minions have planned for them. Her character is shown as tough and sexually dominant and it is no coincidence that she is the only one of the five who does not suffer some sort of physical degradation.
Veteran Hong Kong actor/fighters Yueh Hua and Lau Wai Ling give very good support as the brother and sister pair who help the Virgins escape and ultimately get revenge. The two actors lend a notably strong, stoic presence considering all the shenanigans that go on.
All in all, Virgins of the Seven Seas adds up to wild, gleefully wrongminded entertainment. Now if only someone could locate the five Virgins themselves for interviews and behind the scenes info. A dvd commentary by them would certaintly be interesting...
*** / ****