Ilona Staller (la Cicciolina) … Helen Miller / Helga
After a wild night on the town, a dashing British airline pilot is attacked by thugs, and when he wakes in hospital he finds himself being cared for by a beautiful Doctor, Emy Wong. He falls in love with her, but Emy gravely informs him that, in the ancient Asian custom, she is betrothed to a man that she has never met.
From the promotional materials of the time, “The Sensuous World of Emy Wong” (better known by the unfortunate title “Yellow Emanuelle”) one would think Bitto Albertini (aka Albert Thomas) was intending to churn out another soft-core romp, similar to the films of Joe D’Amato. However, after the opening montage around the seedier parts of Hong Kong, viewers finds themselves in the midst of a very different kind of film.
This is not unusual with Albertini’s work. His legendary “Emanuelle nera/Black Emanuelle” (1975) was essentially a melodrama, with lots of soft-core fondling thrown in to attract the grindhouse crowd. Albertini concentrates more on dramatic tension and melodrama then his counterparts, with mixed results in most cases, including “Yellow Emanuelle.” On one hand, you’ve got Ilona Staller (who later became on of the more off-the-wall figures of Italian porn) and Giuseppe Pambieri engaging in much (simulated) sleazy sex, accompanied by Nico Fidenco’s pornoesque score. On the other hand, the romance between Chai Lee’s Emy Wong and Pambieri seems to come from another film entirely. It’s sensitively told, the actors really seem to believe in what they’re doing, and their love scenes are beautifully shot (including one in an unfurnished bedroom that is just this side of art.) The drama works on some levels, Chai Lee creates a sympathetic heroine, although her plight seems a little contrived and out of left field. The television version deletes the entire ending subplot and actually works better. The original theatrical ending seems hurried and contrived, so much so that it’s intended effect is replaced by a giant “Huh?” from the audience.
All-in-all, the film is enjoyable and beautifully photographed. Those who prefer their sleaze a bit warmed-over but with *some* dramatic oomph will enjoy this picture.