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directed by Jim Wynorski
USA 1985


When her police officer brother (PHANTASM's Bill Thornbury) is killed in the robbery of a Chinatown jewelry story, policewoman Angel Wolfe (Melanie Vincz, HUNK) wants revenge. Her FBI agent boyfriend Rick (Paul Coufos, CHOPPING MALL) is sure that religious cult leader Dr. Sin Do (PHANTASM's Angus Scrimm) is behind the caper based on the three ninjas that were also killed in the robbery. Legend has it that Sin Do is an incarnation of Lee Chuck who made a deal with the devil that requires of him a daily quota of killings, and that he is trying to find the "Eyes of Avatar" two stones that grant ultimate power to the one who reunites them. Learning that Sin Do is building an army of brainwashed female assassins, Angel goes undercover with top-heavy Native American archer White Shadow (Raven De La Croix, Russ Meyer's UP!, who also produced) and mud-wrestling ex-con Heather (Angela Aames, H.O.T.S.) to Sin Do's island lair for training. As they are challenged to do battle to the death with the little-seen boa constrictor-caressing Sin Do's fighters - via his sadistic henchman Koro (Robert Tessier, STARCRASH) - and prowl the island, they realize that the legends about Lee Chuck may be true and they may never get off the island alive.

The directorial debut of Jim Wynorski (NOT OF THIS EARTH), THE LOST EMPIRE embodies virtually everything that makes eighties exploitation such a guilty pleasure. The plotting may be pedestrian and the acting not much better, but cast and technicians are game, Wynorski throws in "everything but the kitchen sink" (from brainwashed, scantily-clad slaves to a horny gorilla), and the production values are comparatively lavish next to Wynorski's subsequent Roger Corman Concorde productions of the mid-eights to the nineties. The cast also includes Blackie Dammit (NINE DEATHS OF THE NINJA's "Alby the Cruel"), Angelique Pettyjohn (THE MAD DOCTOR OF BLOOD ISLAND) as "Whiplash", Kenneth Tobey (THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD) as Angel's police captain, and Linda Shayne (HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP) as one of Sin Do's less fortunate contestants. On the technical side, we've got colorful photography by Jacques Haitkin (A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, a throbbing John Carpenter-esque synth score by Alan Howarth (Carpenter's scoring collaborator from ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK onwards), and quaint but cheeky visual effects by Anthony Doublin (FROM BEYOND) and Ernest Farino (GALAXY OF TERROR).

Eric Cotenas


Theatrical Release: February 1985 (USA)

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DVD Review: Polyscope Media Group - Region 1 - NTSC

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

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Polyscope Media Group

Region 1 - NTSC

Runtime 1:23:21

2.23:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 4.78 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 English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono
Subtitles none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Polyscope Media Group

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 2.23:1

Edition Details:
• Audio Commentary by director Jim Wynorski
• Still Gallery
• Soundtrack Cues:
• - 1. 'The Lost Empire' (3:49)
• - 2. 'Stolen Gem' (6:19)
• - 3. 'Punks at School' (1:26)
• - 4. 'Spider' (0:56)
• - 5. 'Whitestar' (1:24)
• - 6. 'Examination Room' (2:59)
• - 7. 'Sin Do' (0:28)
• - 8. 'Gladiators' (1:59)
• - 9. 'Night Fortress' (1:34)
• - 10. 'Meet Your Maker' (5:22)

DVD Release Date: 22 April 2014

Chapters 17



Polyscope's progressive, anamorphic widescreen (2.23:1) transfer marks the first time the film has been available on home video in its correct aspect ratio since the film's theatrical release (the import DVDs of the film are sourced from panned-and-scanned masters). The opening looks softer, but the commentary explains that the crew did not have anamorphic lenses for the first day so the footage was framed for scope and converted in post, the colors are vibrant, and the source seems very clean apart from some debris during the reel changes and opticals. The bitrate certainly should have been higher as the encoding is a bit noisy during grainier passages and edge enhancement is sometimes quite ugly. It's still the best the film has looked on home video.

The Dolby Digital 2.0 mono audio conveys the throbbing synth score more clearly than the dialogue, but that is probably the fault of the original mix (the ADR'd voices - including that of Angus Scrimm in scenes with his stand-in - are clearer than some of the on-set audio). Extras include an audio commentary by director Jim Wynorski - in which he explains that the film was planned for 3D only for the crew to discover that the lenses did not work on the first day of shooting and that the stock footage came from unused outtakes from OUR MAN FLINT - as well as ten soundtrack cues. Since the images under the soundtrack cues are static, they probably could have cut down on the bitrate for them and allocated some more to the feature.

  - Eric Cotenas


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Region 1 - NTSC


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