Anchor Bay presents
Ebony, Ivory & Jade (1976)
Pam: "What's the matter?"
Unnamed Gangster: "We're out of gas."
Pam: "Holy s--t!"
Stars: Rosanne Katon, Colleen Camp, Sylvia Anderson
Other Stars: Max Alvorado, Ken Washington, Jun Aristorenas
Director: Cirio H. Santiago
Manufacturer: GTN New Media
MPAA Rating: PG for (language, violence)
Run Time: 01h:19m:45s
Release Date: 1999-06-15
DVD ReviewThe 1976 film Ebony, Ivory & Jade (originally released as She Devils In Chains and also as American Beauty Hostages, Foxfire and Foxforce, and different from the 1974 movie Savage Sisters, also released under the same title) recounts the kung-fu exploits of a group of female athletes taken hostage at the Hong Kong International Track Meet. While their allies and enemies maneuver to arrange the release of the girls on terms favorable to themselves, the women take matters into their own hands, fighting to earn their freedom under the skilled and attractive leadership of Ginger (Colleen Camp), Pam (Rosanne Katon) and Kasey (Sylvia Anderson).
Released in 1976, Ebony, Ivory & Jade bears all the hallmarks of low-budget 70's exploitation. The kung-fu action is fairly well-choreographed with blows that appear to connect in most cases, but obvious dummies, male stunt doubles for female characters, blood that looks like red paint and badly timed squibs continually shatter the illusion. The ludicrous plot (the kidnapping turns out to have been arranged by Ginger's stepfather) and one-note characterizations don't help, and the racial subtext is insincere and strained—the African-American girls make jokes about being sold back into slavery, and the unity the film tries to encourage is undermined by dialogue referring to its Hong Kong villains as "Chinamen" with no discernible irony. The film's title is not only racially-based but misleading, as the lone Asian girl dies midway through the film, leaving "2 Ebonies, an Ivory and Some Guy" to carry the climax. And there are other odd, careless slip-ups—an official track meet announcer mispronounces "Pentathlon" as "Pentalthon," and a credit listing for the dialogue "Directress" seems not only sexist but grammatically invented.
Ebony, Ivory & Jade does differ from most of its period brethren in that it's rated PG, not R. The film contains no nudity, though the women are often put in revealing outfits. The language is a bit strong (with one invocation of a certain multi-syllabic Oedipal phrase) and there's plenty of violence to go around, with enough gunfire and well-placed martial arts strikes to raise insurance rates for gangsters throughout Hong Kong, but it's a relatively mild film, which may explain its appearance under a multitude of TV-ready titles.
All indications are that prolific director Cirio H. Santiago (T.N.T. Jackson) churned this one out as quickly as possible—he directed three films released in 1976 and obviously didn't waste any time polishing his product. It's a thoroughly generic beat-'em-up-babes picture—cheaply produced, with laborious, predictable "action" and characters that fail to involve the audience in any way whatsoever, making its scant 80-minute running time feel much, much longer. While it's historically valuable to see this type of film captured on DVD, I recommend waiting for a more entertaining example of the genre.
Rating for Style: D
Rating for Substance: D-
|Aspect Ratio||1.33:1 - P&S|
|Original Aspect Ratio||no|
Image Transfer Review: Anchor Bay commits a rare sin (by the company's usual standards), presenting Ebony, Ivory & Jade in a pan-and-scan 1.33:1 format, cropped down from the original 1.85:1 widescreen aspect ratio (as best I can surmise.) It's a fairly careless P&S job as well, with a character speaking and gesturing almost completely offscreen in one scene. The source doesn't help—the print has a lot of flecking and dirt, and one long outdoor sequence was apparently shot on cloudy days without benefit of artificial lighting, turning up underexposed, grainy and dark in the finished film. The DVD transfer is fairly clean, with decent detail (considering the print) and minimal distracting artifacts, but between the poor source and cropped image, this disc's image quality is well below average.
Image Transfer Grade: D-
Audio Transfer Review: Ebony, Ivory & Jade is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 monophonic audio, decoded to play through the center speaker in a ProLogic setup. The soundtrack contains significant analog hiss, with limited frequency range and typical low-budget 70's distortion resulting in warbly music and poor separation of sound elements. Dialogue is frequently muddied or obscured, and much of the dialogue was obviously "looped" in post-production, frequently with poor lip-synch (even though the movie was shot in English.) Far from reference or even acceptable quality—not Anchor Bay's fault, but a poor showing in this department.
Audio Transfer Grade: D
Disc ExtrasStatic menu
Scene Access with 29 cues and remote access
Extras Review: Anchor Bay provides Ebony, Ivory & Jade with a title screen, 29 text-menu chapter selections and nothing more. This is a rare case where the film has no real fan base (to my knowledge) and supplements are probably not in demand, but that doesn't help the objective grade in this department.
Extras Grade: D-
Final CommentsEbony, Ivory & Jade is just plain BAD, lacking in any sort of entertainment value despite its pitch-perfect genre trappings. Anchor Bay's DVD transfer does what it can, but the source has dated terribly, the original widescreen image has been "reformatted" to full-screen pan-and-scan, and the disc features no real supplements. Might be fun as a casual rental, but not a good purchase unless you absolutely must own every film of its type.
Dale Dobson 2000-07-16