Review: The Vineyard (1989) / Cert: 18 /Director: James Hong, William Rice / Screenplay: James Hong / Starring: James Hong, Karen Lorre, Michael Wong / Release Date: Out Now
Whilst hailed as “the man of a thousand faces”, for many James Hong remains most closely associated with his appearance as one of Roy Batty's ill-fate designers in Blade Runner, and his failed attempts to sacrifice the beautiful green-eyed Kim Cattrall in Big Trouble in Little China. Now Arrow invite you to “step into the cult arena” and discover the horror James Hong unleashed in a vineyard three short years after that latter role.
Scientist and winemaker Doctor Elson Po has discovered the secret to eternal life. Inevitably there is a snag. To secure eternal life he must sacrifice the young and beautiful Jezebel Fairchild (Lorre). Under the premise of an audition, Po has lured Jezebel along with a group of unsuspecting youngsters to his remote island where they will help him attain eternal youth.
A prolific presence in front of the camera, for The Vineyard Hong assumes multiple roles; co-writing, co-directing as well as casting himself in the lead role. As a writer, he serves up a story with nods to Edgar Allan Poe, H.G. Wells and The Godfather, a bit slow at the beginning but entertaining thereafter. As an actor, he is, as you would expect, very dependable throughout, his trademark voice and mannerisms conveying a sense of charm beneath which simmers a lurking menace. The result is a film which never has you on the edge of your seat but you can settle back to watch it comfortably enough.
So long as you don't expect too much from it, The Vineyard is good fun, a nonsensical romp on an isolated island with plenty of cult moments to satisfy certain cravings. It possesses a unique charm, one which undoubtedly derives from its silly plot, unconvincing dialogue and performances, without which it wouldn’t quite so endearing.