I'm an 80s child, so I would have been 19 during the release of Wild Orchid. I remember some chatter over the explicit nature of the film at the time, but I never saw it in the theaters, or on VHS. After viewing this for the first time, I have to say I dodged a bullet back then.
'Wild Orchid' opens with a young woman named Emily (played vacantly and terribly by Carré Otis) boarding a bus to New York to interview for a job at a law firm. She quickly wins the job, but is told she needs to fly to Rio the next day to assist in a hotel purchase, as she is also fluent in Portuguese. One of the firm's head honchos, Claudia Dennis (played by Jacqueline Bisset in a truly embarrassing turn) accompanies her on the airplane to Brazil, but then has to depart for Argentina to meet with the seller of the hotel. For some reason, part of Emily's new job is to take Claudia's place as a night time date. Before the date, Emily wanders into the abandoned hotel they want to purchase, and wouldn't you know it, she's stumbled smack dab into a couple about to have wild, passionate sex. Before they do, the clothes come flying off, and there's some kind of interpretive dance that takes place. Conveniently, there's some water overhead that splashes down on them during the montage, and Emily just can't look away. She quickly hauls it out of there, as she is simply overwhelmed by the display of carnal passion.
Emily finally meets her date: a suave, very successful businessman named James Wheeler (Mickey Rourke). On the way to the restaurant, he stops just to watch her walk, which is not at all weird after three minutes of knowing each other. The banter is truly horrifying; he mumbles a ton of questions in her direction, mostly involving guessing the stories of other couples at the restaurant. Everything out of his mouth is either ridiculous (he had an assistant contact Emily's mother to find out what she likes to eat) or completely inappropriate for a first meeting. He suggests that she needs to lose control, and challenges her to describe a nearby couple's wedding night in lurid details. Emily tries to derail James by mentioning she never liked roast beef, she just told her mother she did, and James presses her to go through describing the event or he will ask the couple himself. This causes Emily to grab James, a big no no, as he's not ready to be touched. This scene has to be viewed to be believed. We then see Emily and James stroll into a sordid bar, complete with naked women, masquerade attire, and masks. James is clearly pushing Emily to let go of sexual boundaries. When a man she thinks is James (but is not) grabs her at the bar, she again runs.
Next morning, Emily awakens to the not at all creepy sight of James who has broken into her room and is sitting down, watching her. He's apologizing like no tomorrow and has a handful of Wild Orchids to help. This quickly does the trick, and James whisks Emily off on another adventure. This time, they are attending a party on a beach, and they are accompanied by some of James' friends, a couple that was actually in the restaurant on their dinner date. In fact, the same couple James wanted Emily to detail their imagined wedding night! We next see one of James' female assistants receiving a sailor's bold advances on the dance floor. James has instructed Emily to throw cold water on another sailor if a fight breaks out, as this sailor has a gun in his sock. And that's exactly what happens. James starts brawling with the sailors, the cold water gets thrown, and they need to get the heck out of there. The couple that is with James and Emily have to deal with the woman getting her top ripped off during the fracas. The wife won't cover up though, her marriage is on the rocks, her infidelity has causes her husband to spurn her, and she just needs her husband to start looking at her again. All four are in the limo on the way home, and James uses this opportunity to play the marriage guru. He instigates the couple into having makeup sex on the drive home, and reaps an ancillary benefit: Emily has to watch.
They wind up at the hotel, and James again pulls away from Emily when she reaches out to him. He just doesn't like to be touched. Emily, we have to assume for percolating lustful reasons, decides to show up to the masquerade bar alone later that night. She's offered a good chunk of change and a room key by a masked stranger to have sex. She just can't make up her mind. Being the helpful guy he is, James strolls into the bar and gives her the encouragement she needs to go up to the room and do the deed. Emily, through the room window, looks out at James, who's down on the beach below. He can't be intimate, but he can watch her with someone else.
Cut to an airplane landing. Claudia has arrived with the current owner of the hotel, and it's time to make the deal. The hotel owner's legal team features none other than Jerome (Bruce Greenwood) - a handsome lawyer, and familiar to Emily. She's the same man that paid her to have sex the night before. AWKWARD. He's using his hunky stare in an attempt to intimidate Emily and Claudia into an inferior deal. This obviously puts a wrinkle in things, and Emily quickly needs a time out, again running away. Claudia joins her, but laughs in her face, as she knows she can use this to their advantage. She brings up Jerome's family during the negotiations, and the deal is then sealed in Claudia's favor. Later, Emily and Claudia discuss James. It's revealed Claudia has an obsession with James, but, to no surprise, he wouldn't touch her. It also comes out he used to stutter, and he built his fortune from scratch. What he also did is buy the hotel from right under their noses! Claudia, for some inexplicable reason, decides to proceed by throwing a huge bash to celebrate owning a hotel her firm actually doesn't have. I guess we're supposed to believe they can get the hotel back?
Next day, Claudia throws her hotel key down to a handsome stranger on the beach. Turns out, he only speaks Portuguese, and Emily needs to translate for Claudia so that she can consummate her passions. This gets a bit tricky, and a ménage à trois is brewing. James again uses his power of breaking and entering to throw the guy out of the room. He's playing games with Emily. An argument ensues, and James leaves the hotel. Thankfully, he's not all bad, as he signs over the deed for the hotel to Emily. Looks like Claudia's hunch paid off.
The film wraps up with the two of them back in Emily's room. He spills his guts on his childhood and trust issues with women, and Emily repeatedly tries to disrobe and touch James. There are orchids everywhere, and you can cut the sexual tension in the room with a butter knife. They finally give in to each other, their dry hair in all earlier scenes suddenly becoming wet, and a rather tame and dull five minute sex montage plays on the screen. Afterwards, they receive a thumbs up from a local kid as they ride off together on a Harley.
This movie was a real challenge to get through. Rourke, Otis, and Bisset deliver Razzie level performances, and it's often hard to watch. I didn't feel any chemistry between the leads, which is odd, since they were dating in real life. The one thing the movie needed to get right was the sex scenes, and they fall flat as well. The director really objectifies women; they're constantly portrayed as mindless and impulsive. The movie suggests we're all ruled by primal urges, and to let go of our inihibitions will bring happiness. The main character is rewarded by "letting go" throughout, and her ultimate payoff is the two of them on a motorcycle riding off into the sunset. It's ridiculous, and distasteful. I loved the exotic backdrop of Brazil; its' beaches, music, costumes, and real-life celebrations were interesting to watch. Too bad all of this is draped around a truly dreadful story and script. The movie bombed in the U.S., but went on to gross over $100 million worldwide. I'm glad I didn't pay for a ticket.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Wild Orchid comes as a BD25 Blu-ray disc in a standard blue keepcase slipcase, and loads in region A (B is locked, C untested). The disc starts up with an FBI warning, a disclaimer, and a logo from Olive Films. There's only two options on the menus: playing the movie, and chapters (8 total.) There is one audio, no subtitles, and no supplements. This is as bare bones as you get, outside of a David Lynch release.
The video on this release is a 1:85 AVC encode. The presentation throughout is poor. The image is extremely noisy, look at any blue skyline and it's swimming in large patterns of pixels. One scene of beachwash was almost indecipherable, with textures breaking up. Film scratches, stains, spots, and other source-based anomalies exist throughout, mostly on exterior sequences, and are ugly to look at. Interior sequences fair better. The detail is good in most close-ups, and one particular scene showing a cigarette showed fine texture. Contrast throughout is average at best; most blacks look to be a dark gray. One positive is the colors: the reds and yellows really pop, especially in the costumes used in the Carnival sequences. Fleshtones leaned on the pinkish side, but it wasn't too distracting. Posterization, surprisingly, didn't show up during my viewing, but the clouds in all the long shots did look very washed out and undefined. It doesn't appear that any real cleanup of the source was done for this release. This is an unimpressive image through and through.
There's one audio track, English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, and there's a potential deal breaker: The audio is around two frames early/out of sync until 50:37. Your tolerance for this discrepancy may be better or worse than mine. At 50:37, a complete one-frame dropout occurs at a cut, and the sync restores itself to normal until the end of the film. Aside from these issues, the audio is below average at best. The dialogue is mixed way too low, and the SFX as well as the music are too high in proportion. It doesn't help that Rourke whispers and mumbles his dialogue throughout. There's subwoofer activity during the fairly frequent scenes featuring Brazilian percussive music, and though undefined, it's a presence. Directionality is almost non-existent; I heard a bird pan from left to right, and some additional stereo effects in the music, but the presentation is flat overall. Source issues exist; for example, there is a scene with a parrot and two women where the non-parrot dubbing is completely off. Crank up the sound, because I could barely make out the dialogue.
There are no supplements.
Apparently, this is the rated version, which leaves out certain shots from the final sex scene between the leads, as well as some story elements. I doubt this would change my take. I love Razzie films, but the film is too long, and too dull to entertain, even on that level. Featuring below-average video, an audio sync issue in the first half of the movie, and zero extras, Wild Orchid simply can't be recommended, for any reason. MGM had previously released a DVD of this with both versions (rated and unrated.) I suggest sticking with that, if you must. My advice: skip this release.