(aka "A Tale of Ham and Passion" or "Ham Ham")


directed by J.J. Bigas Luna
Spain 1992


`Jamon Jamon" is the funniest sexy movie, or the sexiest comedy, since "Like Water for Chocolate." The movie is an outrageous throwback to the days when directors took crazy chances, counting on their audience to keep up with them. It comes from Spain, land of Luis Bunuel and Pedro Almodovar, and is in their wicked anarchic spirit; it sees sex as a short cut to the ridiculous in human nature.

The movie, which won the Silver Lion at the 1993 Venice Film Festival, takes place in a steamy little provincial town, where the richest family owns the underwear factory. The most famous local landmark is a billboard of a bull with a pair of cajones you can see for miles. Jose Luis, the son of the underwear people, falls in love with Silvia, the pneumatic and sensuous daughter of Carmen, who runs the local bordello.

Jose's rich mother, Conchita, horrified that her son might marry the daughter of a prostitute, decides to take matters into her own hands. She hires Raul, who works in the local ham factory, to seduce Silvia away from Jose Luis. Raul is chosen because he is also the model for the family's underwear ads, and looks promising in briefs.

The plot thickens. Conchita, the rich woman, grows so distracted by Raul that she begins an affair with him, if affair is the word for events so carnal they suggest years of marital deprivation. Meanwhile, it turns out that the young suitor Jose Luis is better known to Silvia's mother than he should be. "If you marry my daughter," Carmen tells him, "I don't want to see you around here anymore!" Jose Luis begs for one last visit upstairs with Carmen. The logic here is unassailable: Since Silvia is ostensibly a virgin, it is only proper that Jose Luis meet his needs in a discreet manner. If that means continuing as the client of his future mother-in-law, well, business is business.

There is more. There is much more. I do not know how to even begin describing the scene with the garlic and the pig. Or how to explain why and how Raul and his friend decide to go bullfighting in the nude at midnight. Nor can I adequately describe what happens to the cajones on the billboard, except to suggest that John Wayne Bobbitt should probably not see this film.

"Jamon Jamon," a title that translates as "Ham Ham," is a movie that combines lurid melodrama with vast improbabilities, sexy soap opera with heartfelt romance, and cheerful satire with heedless raunch. As is only proper, it stars actors of considerable physical appeal, most particularly Penelope Cruz as Silvia, Anna Galiena as Carmen, and Stefania Sandrelli (from Bertolucci's "The Conformist") as Conchita. Javier Bardem, as Raul, is well cast as the town stud.

And Jordi Molla, as Jose Luis, is appropriately hapless.

"Jamon Jamon" is a kind of movie I have a great fondness for. It is frankly outrageous, it has the courage to offend, it is not afraid of sex, and it goes over the top in almost every scene. It takes a certain kind of moviegoer, I suppose, to enjoy a film like this; of course it's in bad taste, of course it's vulgar, of course it flies in the face of all that is seemly, and, of course, that is the idea.

Excerpt from Roger Ebert's review at the Chicago Sun-Ties found HERE


Theatrical Release: September 4, 1992 (Spain)

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DVD Review: Cinexus - Region 3 - NTSC

Big thanks to Warren Murphy for the Review!

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Region 3 - NTSC

Runtime 1:34:17

1.85:1 Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 5.92 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.


Audio Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo
Subtitles English, Korean, none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Cinexus

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.85:1

Edition Details:
• Cast & Crew Biographies
• Theatrical Trailer

DVD Release Date: October 3, 2002

Chapters 18

Comments Apparently, this DVD isn't in the correct aspect ratio. It was supposedly filmed in 1.66:1 but this DVD is presented in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio. There's a few other releases of this film on DVD, but this is the only one that is anamorphic. According to dvdcompare.net, the only DVD version that's in the correct AR is the Spanish one, but it's non-anamorphic. As for this DVD, the picture is pretty good but not perfect. The transfer could've used a bit more cleaning up, as there seemed to be a bit of dirt (very noticeable in the opening titles), and there was one occasion when I noticed a thin, black line in the middle of the screen, but it wasn't overly distracting. The transfer seems to be a bit soft, but it's very clear. I didn't notice any edge enhancement. Basically, it's not going to knock your socks off, but it looks fine to me. As for the extras, there's a trailer (un-subtitled) and cast bios in Korean only. I didn't notice any obvious cropping, so with this being the only anamorphic version out there, it is probably the one to get.

NOTE: After watching it all the way through, I've noticed the subtitle translation is a bit off.  It's almost as if they were translated by someone who isn't a native English speaker. If one is used to reading subtitles though, it is not too distracting.

 - Warren Murphy


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