After lusting for and going full throttle at Kim Basinger in 9½ Weeks, Mickey Rourke lusts after Carré Otis in Wild Orchid, which seems strangely prophetic considering what happened after the film’s release, and of course it all ended rather badly. The plot (such as there is one) is that a young woman lawyer is brought to Rio to help her boss make a deal on a mysterious abandoned hotel, and soon becomes mesmerized by a self-made millionaire during an encounter, setting off a series of erotic encounters.
The film is made out as an erotic thriller, but it ends up being neither erotic nor thrilling, despite the unrated lustfulness that happens at the end. Like all erotic thrillers, this falls into those traditional archetypal tropes of erotica, in that the billionaire aristocrat takes on the young and poor girl and initiates her into these strange perversions, as well as tapping into that old theme of the sexual awakening within a young virginal girl. Despite the hard 18 certificate, it ends up falling into the same pitfalls as Adrian Lyne’s 9½ Weeks and even Sam Taylor-Johnson’s Fifty Shades of Grey in as much as it feels incredibly flashy and stylish, lacking in any real substance, very anodyne, and despite near-subliminal glimpses, it has a very mainstream, sexist, middle-of-the-road anxiety about displays of full-frontal male nudity, so it all feels very vanilla as a result.
In fact, it appears that what director Zalman King is really drooling over other than the sex is the cars, the apartments, and mostly the landscapes and architectures of Rio de Janeiro, so it feels more like abroad consumerist porn than anything else. The dialogue is ear-scrapingly poor and so laughable that it’s almost parodically bad, dialogue of which EL James would’ve been proud of using if she was to do another Fifty Shades book. Because of how corny the dialogue is, you don’t truly believe or buy into any of the characters, and you wonder if at any second it could turn into a Carry On sketch.
Granted, Carré Otis is incredibly striking and gorgeous to look at, but her presence as an actress is wooden to say the least, and wearing a suit and glasses doesn’t make us buy you as an industrial lawyer. She either stands there and looks pretty or delivers small lines in a seemingly forced manner. Mickey Rourke is essentially playing the exact same character he portrayed in 9½ Weeks, walking around trying to be cool and mumbling like Marlon Brando. Both Jacqueline Bisset and Bruce Greenwood offer solid support, but their roles in the film are only there to support the growing sexual tension between Otis and Rourke.
Critically panned at the time, Wild Orchid is not as bad as it could’ve been; mainly because of how laughably bad it is, although whether that is good for someone’s health or not remains to be seen. Nevertheless, it suffers from that classic problem of being all style and no substance. Terribly bland and awfully ordinary.
WILD ORCHID / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR: ZALMAN KING / SCREENPLAY: ZALMAN KING, PATRICIA LOUISIANNA KNOP / STARRING: MICEY ROURKE, CARRÉ OTIS, JACQUELINE BISSET, BRUCE GREENWOOD / RELEASE DATE: 8TH FEBRUARY